SALEM — State Rep. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, was chosen Monday by county commissioners representing a wide swath of Eastern Oregon to succeed Cliff Bentz, who resigned his post Jan. 1.

Bentz, a Republican attorney from Ontario, left the seat to run for Congress to replace U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon, who is retiring at the end of 2020.

Findley was elected to the House in 2018 and was chosen as minority whip in September as part of a shakeup of House Republican leadership.

According to Findley, he’s worked closely with Bentz over the past two years he’s been in office and carried similar committee assignments. Those two factors allow him to slide into his new role with great continuity, he said.

“I’m excited to continue on the work I’ve done in the past for the people of Eastern Oregon,” Findley told the Oregon Capital Bureau. “The transition will be pretty seamless, and I will continue to have a lot of conversations with (Bentz) because he’s not leaving the area.”

Findley goes from representing almost a quarter of Oregon’s total area to more than a third at approximately 36%. He found success as a freshman lawmaker shepherding six of his own bills into law in the 2019 session, including one aimed at increasing the number of high school science and math teachers on Oregon’s eastern border.

Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger in a statement Monday praised Findley’s appointment to the Senate, saying his background, including work for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in fire and aviation management as well as a stint as city manager of Vale, brings an intimate knowledge of agricultural and natural resource issues to the Senate Republican caucus.

“With seats on the joint committee on tax expenditures and the joint committee on transportation, he is familiar with the collaboration it takes to serve his constituents in a Legislature controlled by one party,” Baertschiger said.

Findley resigned his House seat on Monday and is scheduled to be sworn in as senator on Thursday, Jan. 9.

The process to appoint a new representative for House District 60 involves two steps. First, Republican precinct committee people in the district will meet to nominate three to five candidates to replace Findley. County commissioners from Grant, Baker, Malheur, Harney and Lake counties will then select their appointee from the pool of nominees. The appointee must live in House District 60, and have been a member of the Republican party for at least 180 days.