See our take on Federal races here.
Please keep in mind that these ratings are almost exclusively for members of the major parties. “Minor” or “third” party candidates are typically chosen at their conventions. (UPDATE. Minor party candidates have now received surveys and these ratings will be updated as results are returned.)
The process of rating candidates can be very complex and while we do our best to provide the best overview of a candidate, in some cases it simply cannot be done.
There are some candidates that are very easy to rate. Floyd Prozanski is not only militantly anti-gun but is also very deceptive about his positions. Floyd is an easy “F-“. Others like Michael Dembrow and Mitch Greenlick have demonstrated such massive contempt for the rights of Oregonians that rating them is also very simple.
Others have been true pro-rights heros. It’s easy to rate Kim Thatcher. She’s a solid pro-gun vote and introduces many good bills. But other candidates are more complicated.
Many are people who have never held office before. If those people don’t respond to our survey, we usually just don’t know enough about them to rate them one way or another.
That’s why so many candidates are rated “NR” for “not rated.” They are simply unknowns. But there are legislators who are in office now who really can’t be easily rated either.
One of the reasons for that is that we’ve been so successful at killing anti-gun bills that many legislators (especially in the House) have never had to vote on a really controversial bill.
In the 2014 session, most legislators voted in favor of two bills OFF supported, HB 4035 and HB 4068, but these were not controversial bills and the one really dangerous anti-gun bill, SB 1551, never made it to the floor for a vote in either House, so for many legislators we simply don’t know how they would have voted. (Some, like Ann Linniger stated they supported the bill even though they did not get to vote on it.)
So wherever possible we took into account votes in past sessions. We also take into account other factors such as party.
In the Senate, Betsy Johnson received an “A+” not only because her record on guns is so good, but also because she was willing to take on her entire caucus when faced with anti-gun votes making her the only pro-gun Democrat in the Oregon Senate.
Similarly, Jeff Barker, (D. H-28) received an “A+” because of his willingness to stand up to the House Democratic caucus and defend gun rights even when we disagreed with him on other issues. A case in point was HB 4054. This bill was a clear attack on the initiative process that was supported by all but one House Democrat (Brent Barton) and we believe that although it was not actually a “gun bill” it was bad for Oregonians and the process. We were surprised and disappointed that it was supported by two Republicans who are running again, Greg Smith and Vic Gilliam. But we feel that Smith and Gilliam had virtually no explanation for this vote given that they faced no pressure from their own (Republican) caucus. (At least Greg Smith returned our survey and went on record. Gilliam refused.)
Candidates who have not held office before but answered our survey were, obviously, rated based on survey answers. It is our policy to give a maximum rating of B+ to someone with no voting record. However, we make exceptions for candidates, who in spite of a lack of voting record, have a clear history of public support for the Second Amendment. (For example Bill Post who is seeking a House seat in the 25th district and Timothy McMenamin in the 41st District.)
Candidates who are NOT incumbents, but whom we recommend, are listed in bold, italics and underlined.