ON OCT. 1, Beaverton Democratic state senator Ryan Deckert takes over at the Oregon Business Association. Thirty-six-year-old Deckert is replacing retiring president Lynn Lundquist, who has led the group since 2000. How will a young Democrat — and the one-time chair of the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee — help boost the OBA’s influence in the current political climate? We hunted Deckert down while he was vacationing in New England and asked him about the future.
Is your definition of success different as a senator as opposed to as a lobbyist? I don’t know if see myself as a lobbyist. To me, the No. 1 task I have is to get as much unanimity as possible as to where we’re headed. It’s about getting consensus among business leaders, then getting that voice to the capitol.
What was your least favorite part of the last session? The partisanship. We did better than in the 1990s. But there’s so much coming out of Washington that I’m afraid is infecting us again.
Can you change that partisanship now that you’re on this side of the fence? That’s what OBA was so good at this last session with the rainy day fund. They led with their chin and got a lot of consensus in the business community. Something like that allows political courage [on the part of politicians].
You’re, shall we say, young-looking. Has that been a help or a hindrance in state politics? It’s been good and bad. When I first got here it was a hindrance. I got tired of people trying to hand me their briefcase. But it’s like being a minority or a woman in politics, sometimes being different can help get your message across.
You haven’t started yet, but what’s the most misunderstood part of being a lobbyist? You tell me. I think of a lobbyist as someone who tries to get special favors for one group or business. We’re looking at broader issues.
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