Gary A. Warner
The Bulletin

Two dozen Republican leaders representing state House District 55 gathered in La Pine on Saturday to select three candidates to replace recently resigned Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte.

Prineville real estate broker Vikki Iverson; Central Oregon Federation of Republican Women Chair Deborah Tilden, of Prineville; and Crook County Republican activist Peter Sharp were chosen during the meeting at the La Pine Community Center, according to Deschutes County Republican chair Paul deWitt, who attended the event.

Iverson received the most votes, followed by Tilden, then Sharp.

Two Deschutes County residents, La Pine City Councilor Michael Harper and Fall River Estates Board Chair Tom McManus, sought the nomination but finished behind the others. The finalists were chosen by Republican precinct committee persons — known as PCPs — from HD 55. Though state law allows up to five finalists, the PCPs had decided ahead of time to limit their list to three people.

The final decision will be made by county commissioners from areas within the district. HD 55 includes parts of Crook, Deschutes, Jackson, Klamath and Lake counties. The appointee must be selected by Aug. 13 .

The appointee will fill out the remaining portion of McLane’s two-year term. The new House member would have to run for the office in 2020 to retain the seat.

Iverson, who has gone by Vikki Breese-Iverson, co-owns the Windermere Real Estate-affiliated brokerage in Prineville. Her mother, Jean Breese, is co-owner and a broker.

Tilden has been active in the anti-abortion movement, including the unsuccessful fight to pass Measure 106, the 2018 ballot initiative that would have banned state funding for abortions.

Sharp was an unsuccessful 2016 candidate for Crook County commissioner.

McLane resigned July 1 to take up a judgeship on the 22nd Judicial District Circuit Court, which includes Cook and Jefferson counties.

Under state law, replacements for open House seats have to be from the same political party as the member who won the previous election. In McLane’s case, his successor must be a Republican.

HD 55 covers a large swath of Central and Southern Oregon, with much of it in sparsely populated rural areas. Prineville in Crook County and La Pine in Deschutes County are in District 55. It includes Crater Lake National Park.

The district has voted heavily Republican in recent years, with McLane receiving almost 70% of the vote or more in his five races for the seat. McLane has said he believes the district will remain in Republican hands and hopes the eventual appointee plans on holding onto the seat by running in the 2020 election.

McLane was elected to the House in 2010. He had been House minority leader since 2013. He stepped down from the position after November’s election results gave Republicans a historically low 22 seats in the 60-member House. He retained his seat. Rep. Carl Wilson, R-Grants Pass, now leads the GOP House caucus.

Events that led to McLane’s resignation began when Judge Daniel J. Ahern announced in March that he would retire after 22 years on the bench.

Gov. Kate Brown nominated McLane for the judgeship May 31. McLane accepted with the condition that he would be able to finish the 2019 session of the Legislature. The House adjourned June 30 and McLane resigned his seat the next day.

Candidates, including incumbents, can’t officially file to run before Sept. 12. But political campaign finance committees can be created earlier. Iverson created a campaign finance committee July 9 to run for the HD 55 seat in 2020. No contributions or expenditures have been recorded.

The final vote by the county commissioners involves a complex formula of weighted votes. Each county gets one vote for every 1,000 registered voters that live within the district.

According to the office of Secretary of State Bev Clarno, the formula for HD 55 gives Crook County 18 votes, Jackson County 16 votes, Deschutes County 11 votes, Klamath County six votes, and Lake County two votes.

Each county then divides its votes by the number of commissioners in the county.

Each commissioner then casts votes for candidates, with rounds continuing until one candidate receives more than 50% of the votes.

Legislators receive a $31,200 base salary for the job, which is considered part time.

— Reporter: 541-640-2750,