Oregon Climate Walkout Left Republicans in Hiding, Statehouse in Disarray

In Environment, States On
- Updated

SALEM, Ore. — One by one, Oregon’s 11 Senate Republicans fled their state with little more than spare underwear and their passports. They disappeared into Idaho cabins and motels with canned goods and at least one burner phone. They parked borrowed cars outside hideaways to throw off anyone on their trails.

Democrats swiftly sent state troopers after their missing colleagues. They shared outlaw posters on the internet, pleading to the public for help. “Wanted: fugitives from justice (and their jobs!),” the signs read, accompanied by a lineup of photographs of the Republicans. “Have you seen these people?”

So it went in Oregon over the past week as a battle over a climate-change bill plunged the state’s capital into disarray, sending Republicans escaping across state lines and leaving Democrats, who usually control Salem, paralyzed, without enough lawmakers present to pass the climate bill — or anything else.

It was only the latest example of how nasty the political discourse has grown across the nation at a point when either Republicans or Democrats dominate the conversation in nearly every state capitol. Divided control — and compromise — is rarely seen.

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