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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Democrats Make Gains In Oregon Legislature

M.O. Stevens
Wikimedia Commons -

Democrats in the Oregon legislature fared far better in Tuesday's elections than their counterparts in Congress.

The latest tally shows Democrats picking up one seat in the Oregon House and at least one seat in the Oregon Senate. One other state Senate seat is still up in the air.

On their own, the results are not earth-shattering. Democrats will hold slightly larger majorities than before in both the Oregon House and Senate next year -- 35-25 in the house and 17-13 in the Senate.

In the Senate the wider margin will give Democrats more breathing room. It previously took just one defection to erase the Democratic majority. But Senate president Peter Courtney isn't ready to make any promises about what his party might pass next year.

"I do think there's a chance that we'll be able to move some things to the floor and get the necessary votes that we couldn't the last time around,” he said. “But I'm not going to tell you what they are because I don't know right now."

The legislative victories for Oregon Democrats went against a national trend. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Democrats are now at their lowest point of legislative control nationwide in nearly a century.

In Olympia, Republicans solidified their control of the Washington state Senate. In Idaho, the GOP retains a firm grip on both legislative chambers.