SALEM — Secretary of State Dennis Richardson confirmed Wednesday that he will not seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2018.
Despite having raised no campaign funds, Richardson drew political speculation that he might seek the state’s highest office, building on momentum from 2016 when he became the first Republican to win statewide office since 2002.
“I am serious about being the best secretary of state I can be and keeping my promise to voters to provide transparency and accountability and restore trust in government, and that is where my focus is,” Richardson said in a phone interview with Pamplin Media/EO Media Group Capital Bureau Wednesday.
By putting the rumors to rest, Richardson opens the way for other Republican candidates to consolidate support. The campaign for Rep. Knute Buehler, a moderate Republican from Bend who declared his bid for governor Aug. 2, declined comment on Richardson’s announcement. Republican Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer has said she also may challenge incumbent Democrat Gov. Kate Brown.
DeRemer said she is focused on making the “best decision for the people, the investors and the state as a whole” on whether to enter the race.
“No announcement about who is or isn’t running takes us off our overall strategy,” she said.
Brown has been fundraising and campaigning since shortly after her election in November but has yet to officially announce a reelection bid. Her campaign did not immediately respond Wednesday to requests for comment.
Richardson, a former lawmaker from Central Point, lost a challenge to former Gov. John Kitzhaber in 2014. Kitzhaber stepped down as governor less than four months later in the midst of an influence-peddling scandal involving him and First Lady Cylvia Hayes. A federal investigation of the couple ended without charges, but the former governor and first lady remain under investigation by the Oregon Ethics Commission.