Thursday, November 15, 2012

Patrick Sheehan's Farewell Address

NOTE:  An earlier version of this story overstated the margin by which Patrick Sheehan lost to Shemia Fagan in this year's election. Please see updated version below.  [Updated 11/19/12 at 11:45 a.m.]

Patrick Sheehan is one of four incumbent Oregon House Republicans to be unseated as a result of this month's election. In a lengthy farewell address to his constituents, Sheehan--who leaves after one term in the Legislature--blames his loss partly on redistricting, which shifted more of HD-51 into the Democratic stronghold of Multnomah County. Indeed, Sheehan won the Clackamas County portion of his district, but that lead was easily washed away by the Multnomah County section.

Sheehan is right that redistricting hurt his chances. In 2010, Democrats held a relatively modest edge over Republicans of about 940 registered voters and Sheehan easily overcame that electoral disadvantage. In 2012, the margin of registered Democrats over registered Republicans jumped to nearly 2,300. Based on the current unofficial totals, Sheehan lost his seat by roughly 1,300 votes to Shemia Fagan. While it's hard to pinpoint a loss solely on redistricting, the changed boundaries certainly didn't help Sheehan's chances. Ironically, the House Republican responsible for helping to draw up that redistricting plan, Shawn Lindsay, also lost his seat this month.