SALEM — Cheri Helt finds herself in the middle a lot these days. She ran as a middle-of-the-road Republican, winning House District 54, which is both geographically and politically near the middle of the state. Now she finds herself in the middle of what promises to be one of the most contentious sessions of the Legislature in recent memory.
Helt is a moderate in an increasingly conservative Republican caucus, which itself is dwarfed by the Democrats’ 38-22 supermajority in the House. Helt still believes she can get things done, even if politically, she is a minority within a minority.
“My hope is we have a very bipartisan session,” Helt said. “I am very excited to work with anybody regardless of party.”
Helt spoke Monday in her new Capitol office after being sworn into office for a two-year term. The legislative session formally begins Tuesday.
Helt, a Bend restaurateur, won the House District 54 race despite Democrats holding about a 7,000 voter registration edge over Republicans. She was helped by the implosion of the campaign of Democrat Nathan Boddie, who was accused of sexual harassment, and later, the withdrawal of Working Families Party candidate Amanda LaBell amid revelations she made a false statement about her college education.