First-term Sen. Alan DeBoer, a Republican from Ashland, will decide by Saturday if he will seek re-election to his swing district Senate seat, DeBoer said Wednesday.
Others say DeBoer has already decided to call it quits.
Capitols staffers familiar with his plans said he will announce Saturday that he will not seek re-election and endorse Jessica Gomez — a prominent business owner from Medford and until recently a registered Democrat — for the Republican primary election. Gomez is an influential businesswoman temporarily serving as one of DeBoer's legislative aides.
DeBoer did not deny that Wednesday. But he said the plans are "not firm" until they are publicly announced in a few days. DeBoer also said he and Gomez are "still talking" about his re-election plans.
DeBoer has been the Ashland-Medford area senator since 2016, when he won election to the term left unfinished by Sen. Alan Bates, who died in office. DeBoer had been Ashland's mayor and built a career owning car dealerships. He bested his Democratic opponent by just 395 votes.
Only 14 months into his legislative career, DeBoer, 66, has sparked chatter around the Captiol that he wants to head back to Ashland.
If he forgoes re-election he would likely promote Gomez in her attempt to succeed him in the Senate. Capitol staffers say DeBoer will do that and that Gomez intends file candidacy paperwork Friday.
Gomez, 41, is founder and chief executive of Medford-based Rogue Valley Microdevices, southern Oregon's first microtech company. DeBoer hired her to be his legislative assistant for the session now underway, giving her firsthand experience in how the Senate works. Gomez was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
On top of helming a microtech firm, Gomez is also active in the business development world. She serves on Oregon's economic development commission, the Oregon Business Council board of directors, the Oregon Institute of Technology board of trustees and the Medford-Jackson County Chamber of Commerce board.
Gomez had also for many years, until recently, been a registered Democrat. She changed her party affiliation to Republican in recent months, records show.
Democrats see DeBoer's seat as vulnerable during the November 2018 election, based on his narrow victory in 2016 and polls that predict a Democratic advantage during midterm voting. If Senate Democrats can hold all the seats they already have and flip DeBoer's they would have a coveted supermajority, allowing Democrats to pass tax increases without Republican support.
No one has officially filed to run in DeBoer's seat as a Republican. But four Democrats have: Julian Bell, a doctor and former gubernatorial candidate; Athena Goldberg, director of behavioral health at a southern Oregon health network; Jeff Golden, a television producer and former county commissioner; and Kevin Stine, a Medford city councilor and employee of a Jackson County community development non-profit.
Bates, a Democrat and a doctor, held the seat for 11 years.