As of 8 p.m. on election night, Republican incumbent E. Werner Reschke was leading Democrat challenger Taylor Tupper for the Oregon House of Representatives District 56 position. Reschke had 11,221 votes and Tupper had 4,635 with 59.84 percent of all registered voters’ ballots in.
Reschke told The Herald and News that he was watching election results come in with his wife, and he felt confident going into the night.
“I thought I’d worked very hard over the past few years and I thought those results would pay off,” he said.
Reschke has served as the District 56 representative since 2016. Reschke was nominated as a Republican, Libertarian and Independent candidate. He bills himself as pro-limited government, small business and second amendment conservative. He lives with his wife on their Klamath County farm and has a son in the U.S. Air Force.
Reschke said he’d encountered many voters this election who told him they didn’t vote for him in 2016 but decided to do so this year.
“I think they liked the way I did things in Salem, that I represented their values.”
Reschke said that he works with a rural, conservative mindset. He said he was not yet ready to talk about goals and endeavors of his next term if he won, and was focused on the campaign and election results.
According to Votesmart.org, In the 2017 legislative session, Reschke voted no on bills to: prohibit disclosure of immigration status, prohibit landlord eviction of tenants without a cause, require coverage for abortions and contraceptives, reduce criminal charges for drug possession, raise the tobacco sales age to 21, prohibit suicidal people from owning guns and prohibit convicted stalkers from owning guns.
He also voted no on a proposal for statewide access to healthcare and a bill to establish a state net neutrality policy. Reschke voted yes on a bill to increase penalties for distracted drivers.
Reschke said that one of his greatest legislative accomplishments of his first term was helping acquire $50 million in capital construction bonds for Oregon Tech and Klamath Community College building projects.
Reschke is pro-life. He introduced a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill is currently in the House Committee on Health Care, according to the Oregon Secretary of State website.
Reschke has a 93 percent fiscally and socially conservative state legislature lifetime scores from the American Conservative Union, according to Votesmart.org. He has a 93 percent rating from the National Rifle Association.
Tupper, a Native Modoc woman, spent election night with members of the Klamath County Democratic Central Committee at the Pikey bar in Klamath Falls.
On election night, Tupper said she didn’t yet know how she’d feel once the race was all over, but it was a learning experience no matter what. She said the experience of meeting so many strong local Democrats and receiving help from campaign volunteers was a victory in itself.
“Whatever happens, we’ve won,” she said.
Tupper is the public relations manager for the Klamath Tribes.
If elected, Tupper would have been the first Native woman to serve in the Oregon House of Representatives in the state’s history.
Tupper said she ran as one of a record number of Native women candidates in elections across the nation.
“I have to keep going for my tribal community, but also for my ancestors who are watching,” Tupper said. “They died so I could be here.”
Tupper said she hoped other Native people and women would consider running in the future.
“Never doubt yourself,” she said. “Be sure to reach out, there’s always someone there to help. Just do it. You won’t know unless you try.”
Tupper ran on a platform of economic development and environmental protection.
Throughout her campaign, Tupper pointed to her ranching roots, experience finding common ground with Republican relatives and work with the Klamath Tribes’ water team as evidence of her ability to see all sides of ongoing water and irrigation disputes in the area.
She said the thing that surprised her most throughout the race was how many people told her they loved and supported her, but could not vote for her because they were not a Democrat.
“I told them, it shouldn’t always be about party,” she said.
She said she would continue to stay politically active within her tribal community, and would consider running for office again in the future.
“You can’t live in the Basin and not try to be progressive,” she said.