West Linn Republican stands by decisions she’s made in office
“I wish my caucus leaders well and much luck going into the campaign cycle,” Parris said in a statement to The Times. “I was unprepared that other senior members of my caucus would discuss our inside caucus relations with the paper.”
Parrish publicly responded to the election’s outcome by wishing the caucus leadership luck last week, but bristled at some of her colleagues’ remarks to the media about what Parrish referred to as “inside baseball.”
The mid-session caucus election replaced Parrish as deputy leader. State Rep. John Davis, R-Wilsonville, won the seat, while Rep. Sherrie Springer, R-Scio, took the position of House Republican Whip from an exiting Wally Hicks, R-Grants Pass.
Fellow caucus member Rep. Vicki Berger, R-Salem, characterized the new caucus as more appropriate for the upcoming election cycle, noting Davis’ strong fundraising skills.
But Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, described the internal process differently, stating Parrish lost the position after recruiting an additional candidate for District 25, which Rep. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, will soon vacate.
“There are people in the caucus that felt it was not appropriate for a caucus leader to be recruiting someone to run against another Republican in the primary,” Richardson said.
Thatcher recruited conservative Salem-area radio show host Bill Post to run for the seat, and he announced his candidacy the day Thatcher announced her intentions to run for Oregon Senate.
Keizer resident Barbara Jensen hopes to give Post a fair amount of competition, with Parrish’s encouragement.
“The people of her House District deserve a choice,” Parrish said. “No one should get a free pass into public office. We need pragmatic leaders to solve Oregon’s problems.”
Jensen boasts more than 30 years working with state government agencies, including the Department of Energy and the Department of Transportation.
“I made a decision to encourage a smart, thoughtful woman, who fits her district, to run for office,” Parrish told The Times. “Her information technology experience is much needed at a time when projects like Cover Oregon have run amok. Her passion for veterans’ issues is incredible. And most importantly, she understands that people are diverse, and government must be accountable to and serve us all.”
Parrish herself was not the caucus choice when she ran for her House seat in 2010. Now in her second term and running for re-election, Parrish acknowledged she has not always fallen along the party line.
“I also chose to support the marriage equality initiative, which is not a tenant of the GOP platform,” she said. “I appreciate it’s not an easy topic for some Oregonians, especially those that consider themselves socially conservative.”
Parrish maintains she’s not troubled by the supposed faux pas some of her peers are charging.
“I stand by the decisions I’ve made and the things I believe in, and would make the same decisions again in spite of losing a leadership position over it,” Parrish said. “Real leadership is having the courage to do what is painful and uncomfortable, and sometimes, to your own personal detriment, in order to achieve better outcomes for the world around you.”
Regardless of the election-year caucus shift, Parrish maintained she intends to stay put.
“I will strive to be a voice for all conservatives, fiscal and social, who believe in freedom, equality, fairness, prosperity, opportunity and self-determination,” Parrish said. “Those are the values of the Oregon GOP since statehood. We see those values in the fabric of our state’s history. It’s time we look back to where we came from so we can move forward with a solution-oriented GOP.”