PENDLETON — Gov. Kate Brown’s office confirmed this week that she will not be coming to the Pendleton Round-Up this year due to scheduling conflicts.
Last week, the Round-Up administrative office said Brown had not registered for the Westward Ho! Parade this year.
President Dave O’Neill said that the Pendleton Round-Up would not be providing any further comment.
A few weeks ago, Brown also pulled out of the annual governor’s luncheon, held by the Eastern Oregon Women’s Coalition each year during Round-Up.
Brown’s office told the coalition that the governor wouldn’t be able to make it because of scheduling conflicts.
“I am absolutely positive that if she could have rearranged her schedule she would have,” said Bobby Levy, the coalition’s president.
Levy said that the governor has a good relationship with the coalition.
Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and State Treasurer Tobias Read will be attending the luncheon instead, according to Levy.
Levy said that the coalition has hosted the governor’s luncheon for six years, and have in the past hosted Brown as well as former governors John Kitzhaber and Ted Kulongoski.
“I don’t think there’s much to read into this. She’s a good friend of Pendleton,” said Pendleton Mayor John Turner, who plans to ride in the Westward Ho! Parade.
Turner said he feels confident in Brown’s relationship with the city since she played an instrumental role in securing funding for the Blue Mountain Community College Farm II project. Turner also noted that Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, would be attending the Round-Up. This will be his third year.
Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, will also be in attendance at the parade and various other Round-Up activities. He said Brown is a horsewoman, and that her attendance at Round-Up has been more consistent than previous governors.
“In my 30 years as a county commissioner, I would say the governor probably comes half the time,” Hansell said.
Hansell said it’d been a rough legislative session on both sides of the aisle, but that he doesn’t want to second guess why Brown is unable to come. He also noted that non-election years means lower turnout from politicians and candidates to an event that he feels is an opportune time to discuss urban and rural issues with fellow constituents.
“Round-Up helps provide a venue away from Salem. We’ve been able to have it be not just a time for entertainment, but a time to build bridges,” Hansell said.
The deputy communications director for Brown’s office, Kate Kondayen, did not specify what the governor’s plans were during the second full week of September, when Round-Up takes place.
She said that Brown is currently planning a visit to Pendleton and other parts of Eastern Oregon later in the fall.