It is likely that Democrats will continue to dominate Oregon politics after the results of November’s election are tabulated.
Governor Kate Brown is likely to win her first election for the top seat in state government. The Senate and House are favored to remain in Democratic control.
If that’s the case — with one party having its hands on almost all the levers of power — then it is important that voters find a way to provide some check on that power. Voters can do that by electing Republican Dennis Richardson for Secretary of State.
Richardson, you may remember, was defeated by soon-to-be-disgraced Gov. John Kitzhaber in 2014. He has spent a decade in the Oregon legislature, rising to speaker pro tem and a powerful co-chair of the joint Ways and Means Committee.
Richardson has a history of straightforward conservative votes, a willingness to engage a Democratic majority and conduct a statewide campaign in opposition to them. As Secretary of State, Richardson would be able to concentrate solely on the fiscal impacts of legislative decisions, support reorganization of poor-performing state offices and increase transparency and accountability.
In regards to major state government failures in recent years — Cover Oregon and the Columbia River Crossing come to mind — having a Secretary of State in charge of the audits division that was at some level not in lockstep with the governor’s office would have been helpful for taxpayers.
Perhaps those debacles may well have debacled, and hundreds of millions of tax dollars would still have been flushed down the toilet. But with a member of an opposite party as Secretary of State, Oregonians would have had a more thorough and transparent accounting of why the mistakes happened and responsible decision-makers held accountable. That would give Oregonians more confidence that similar mistakes wouldn’t happen again.
Richardson’s main competitor, Democrat Brad Avakian, is looking to use the position as a stepping stone to higher statewide office. He would look to expand the office of Secretary of State, and would likely be to the left of the governor’s office on many issues. While that may be delightful for some parts of Oregon, it doesn’t sound so good out here on the wide prairies.
Two other candidates for the position are Pacific Green Party Candidate Alan Zundel, of Eugene, and Libertarian candidate Sharon Durbin, a former Forest Grove Planning Commissioner.
Because he would be in charge of the audits division and be one of the few Republicans within the upper echelon of state government, we support Richardson for Secretary of State.