Republicans Jockey After Richardson’s Death

Governor Kate Brown will ultimately choose the next secretary of state, but there are some limits, and Republicans are jockeying for some say-so.

Secretary of State Dennis Richardson died last Tuesday night, he was the first Republican to be elected to statewide office in 16 years. Brown and Oregon’s three other statewide officeholders are Democrats. Oregon’s two legislative houses are both controlled by Democrats.

As voters chose a Republican for the secretary of state seat last election, state law requires Brown to select another Republican to fill the vacancy. But, that’s the only requirement. If the vacancy were legislative, the candidates would be selected by party officials.

On Wednesday, the Republican’s executive committee passed a resolution calling on Brown to consider a list of three to five candidates they will be drafting. Last year, on learning about the severity of Richardson’s illness, the governor asserted any future appointee would have to promise not to run for the office in 2020.

In Oregon, the secretary of state is next in line to assume the governorship, if need be. In 2015, then Secretary of State Kate Brown assumed the governorship when Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned amid scandal.

Currently, Deputy Secretary of State Leslie Cummings is serving as the acting secretary of state. Many in the state’s Republican establishment would prefer to see a viable candidate for the 2020 election appointed.

Former Rep. Julie Parrish told The Oregonian that to appoint someone relatively unknown to the party would be, “a huge betrayal of trust to the voters.”