Oregon Capitol building with pink flowers in front.

OLCV’s Historic Investment in Oregon Senate Races Brings Big Victories

In News, Uncategorized by April Christenson

The largest electoral investment in OLCV’s history pays off with voters electing pro-conservation Sara Gelser in Corvallis and Alan Bates in southern Oregon.

PORTLAND, OREGON — Over a million and a half voters across Oregon cast their ballot in this election, and the results are clear: a big win for the environment, with a pro-conservation majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV) spent nearly $400,000 this general election to help elect a pro-conservation majority to the State Senate and ensure the return of the pro-conservation House of Representatives. This included broadcast television ads in Portland, direct mail to voters, and OLCV’s traditional strong field effort – which this year knocked on more than 42,000 doors and called over 36,000 voters. The bulk of this effort was on behalf of incumbent State Sen. Alan Bates (D-Medford), State Rep. Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis), and former State Rep. Chuck Riley (D-Hillsboro). 

“I’m incredibly proud of all the hard work done by our volunteers and staff. They spent hundreds of hours of calling and door-knocking and ensured that the environment and climate were key issues in campaigns all across the state,” said Doug Moore, OLCV Executive Director. 

OLCV had a clear goal this year – elect a pro-conservation majority to the Oregon Senate – and focused on electing environmental leaders in three swing state Senate districts. And, with one race still undeclared, OLCV-endorsed candidates won two key races. Senator Alan Bates (Senate District 3), who earned OLCV’s Perseverance Award in 2013, won re-election in southern Oregon. In Corvallis, State Rep. Sara Gelser was elected as the newest state Senator for District 8. Her OLCV lifetime score of 93% is a clear improvement over defeated incumbent Senator Betsy Close, who has an OLCV lifetime score of just 7%. The final race in Washington County, Senate District 15, remains too close to call. Chuck Riley, a former state representative with an OLCV lifetime score of 89%, is deadlocked against Senator Bruce Starr (OLCV lifetime score of 36%).

By unseating at least one anti-conservation incumbent – an opponent to a healthy environment in Oregon – and replacing them with an environmental champion, all while re-electing incumbent pro-environment legislators, Oregonians can now count on the 2015 Legislature to put conservation, environmental protection, and fighting climate change at the center of decision-making in Salem.

“Oregon has a long history of protecting our forests, our waterways, our wildlife, and preserving Oregon’s unique quality of life. In this election, voters across Oregon reaffirmed that strong commitment by electing pro-environment majorities to both chambers of the Oregon Legislature and re-electing our pro-environment Governor, John Kitzhaber. With elected leaders who represent the environmental values shared by Oregonians, we can make Oregon the leader it should be in fighting climate change and preserving our natural legacy for future generations,” said Doug Moore.