BEND, OR -- Ballots start going out Wednesday for the May primary, and it’s an unusual one for the state. Thanks to Former Governor John Kitzhaber’s resignation, Oregonians will decide on a Governor and Secretary of State in a Presidential election year.
KBND political analyst and former State Representative Jason Conger (R-Bend) says Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins was likely appointed a year ago because she had no aspirations to run for the office. "Having some continuity, not having an election right away, but then allowing other Democrats. And, of course, the result is there are three legitimate, strong candidates, each of them." In Oregon, Secretary of State is first in the line of succession behind Governor.
Judy Stiegler, a former Democratic State Representative for Bend, says on the Democrat's side of the race, Brad Avakian
, Richard Devlin
and Val Hoyle
need to set themselves apart. "They all talk about the Audits Division, which is an important part – it’s not a sexy part. They talk about the elections and things like that, but I think they all have different approaches to the office. I think a lot of it’s going to be a matter of how well they can articulate those distinctions."
Conger says, while Labor Commissioner Avakian benefits from statewide name recognition, State Senator Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin) is also a strong candidate. "His knowledge will have an impact, I think, in making the audit division a lot more effective. There’s the election side of it, that I think is very important to every voter; the audit division is more focused on looking at waste, looking at opportunities to be more efficient spending our tax dollars within state agencies." Hoyle is a Democratic State Representative for West Eugene/Junction City.
For the Republicans, Conger believes Dennis Richardson
has a very good chance at the GOP nomination, against Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken
. "Just the existence of name recognition is difficult to overcome, unless you have a very well-funded campaign. He was a very legitimate contender for Governor, he’s got a lot of good experience. He’s a very attractive candidate and, most likely, he’ll win."