Do you live in Wilsonville or outer-east Portland? Not yet, if your name is Derrick Kitts or Jefferson Smith (the operative word: yet).
There’s quite a bit of speculation, deserved or otherwise, that the otherwise dissimilar GOP ex-lawmaker Kitts and Bus Project co-founder Smith have at least one thing in common: living on the wrong side of borders.
NW Republican, Ridenbaugh Press and WWire have all picked up the story that Kitts, who formerly represented Greater Hillsboro (District 30) in the Oregon House, intends to cross the border into neighboring House District 26, whose current member, Rep. Jerry Krummel, announced retirement plans earlier this month.
If Kitts doesn’t think he can win in his own, old district (which he can’t against a well-performing Democratic freshman), what makes him think neighboring Republicans will welcome him into their fold? Well, House District 26, which includes the southern half of Washington County and Wilsonville, is a little more solidly Republican than House District 30. What’s more, this wouldn’t be the first time that the Columbia County native took to carpetbaggery–and no one ever said that he’s one to heed sagacious advice (see: Kitts in 2006 Congressional Elections). Lastly, voters don’t seem to care much about new community members stepping up to serve. Domonic Biggi all but called Tobias Read a carpetbagger in 2006, but Read went on to crush Biggi, considered a rising GOP star, in November.
It just might no longer matter how long you’ve lived in the area you’re running, provided you meet the legal requirement that you’ve lived there one year. Heck, Multnomah County Commissioner Lisa Naito doesn’t even live in the district she currently represents. Which brings us to Smith.
With House Speaker Jeff Merkley forgoing re-election in the Oregon House to successfully challenge Gordon Smith, House District 47 in East Portland is wide-open for a new Democrat. The district, which spans east from I-205 to Gresham and south from I-84 to Division, is full of old-school, moderate Democrats and is middle-class and union-friendly. Enter Jefferson Smith.
Smith currently resides in inner-northeast Portland’s House District 43, where some have indicated he has been waiting for an open seat in the state House or Senate. The current delegation there, Rep. Chip Shields and Sen. Margaret Carter, are entrenched incumbents with no publicly-disclosed intention of giving up any time soon. Talk between some insider Democrats lately regards the open seat in District 47 as very appealing to Smith, even if it involves a considerable change in location. No word yet on whether he can find a place to stash his Bus, or if it will be his vehicle to victory.
Kitts and Smith have one other thing in common, too (besides being about the same age): They both have only 80 days to move to qualify for nomination.
Hurry it up, guys.
UPDATE: Jesse Cornett, who co-founded the Bus Project with Smith, comments that Smith already lives in House District 47.