SUNRIVER, OR -- State Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) says he will not run for re-election. "It’s time," Whisnant tells KBND News. "I’m sure that there’s other people in the House District 53 area that can come in and replace me. I always liked the story that all of us are replaceable, just put your arm in a bucket of water and you’ll see." Whisnant says he will complete his current term, but after more than 14 years in Salem, he's ready to retire and travel with his wife.
He’s the latest in a string of Republicans to announce plans to leave Salem, including fellow Central Oregonians Rep. John Huffman (R-The Dalles), who recently vacated his District 59 seat for a job with the USDA, and Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day), who is vying for a spot on a prestigious state council. Whisnant says, "I’m not leaving for more money – and we do make minimum wage, presently – I’m not leaving for a position with Trump or for a state job where I can get more PERS. It’s just time to go. I enjoy it; I really do still love it. I feel that I’m very effective and I still have a year to go. I’m going to pass the bills that I’ve written about that I’ve introduced for 2018." While he says he's not seeking another government position, he expects to remain involved in politics, "I want to stay active and keep the brain working, be active in the community and address issues that are important to Central Oregon and to the state of Oregon. I’m not sure how I’ll do that yet."
Whisnant says he’s working with the House Caucus to find potential candidates to run for his District 53 seat in 2018. "We try to have a farm team available and they’re talking to people and they have asked me to talk and explain the job to some of the people and I’ve done that. I think there will be plenty of people to step forward." But, he doesn't expect to select an heir apparent, "I never endorsed anyone unless incumbents in the primaries. You know, I had to win elections, unlike what’s happening now as far as the appointment process."
He was appointed in 2003 to serve District 53, which includes much of Deschutes County outside Bend. He says he initially thought he would only serve a couple of terms; Whisnant is currently in his eighth term in office.