Campaign Watch: The week in Oregon politics

Of the Associated Press

SALEM — Gubernatorial candidates accused each other of not being sufficiently supportive of issues important to women, and Republican Dennis Richardson grabbed some big checks from the timber industry. After backing the Republican last time, the firefighters union is throwing its support to Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley. And Republicans came out against most Oregon ballot measures.

A look at some of the week's more interesting developments in Oregon politics:



In a theme that's likely to carry through the election, Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber and state Rep. Dennis Richardson traded barbs over their support for women.

Richardson, a Republican from Central Point, went first, releasing a 15-second ad that his campaign says will run online. It accuses Kitzhaber of paying women in his administration less than men.

“Dennis Richardson believes in equal pay for equal work and experience,” a narrator says.

Hours later, the Democratic Party of Oregon followed up with a website, StuffDennisRichardsonSays.com. The Democrats highlight controversial statements Richardson has made on abortion, gay rights and other issues.

“Richardson's record shows he clearly does not grasp the basic issues of fairness and equality,” said Amy Wojcicki, Kitzhaber's campaign spokeswoman.



Richardson lags far behind Kitzhaber in the hunt for campaign cash, but a handful of timber executives gave him a bit of a boost in August.

Campaign finance records show that three sisters who own the Eugene-based Seneca family of timber companies — Jody Jones, Becky Jones and Kathy Jones-McCann — gave a combined $100,000. Richardson also took in $50,000 from Freres Timber Inc., of Lyons.

The money helps Richardson narrow the fundraising gap with Kitzhaber, but he still trails the incumbent. Kitzhaber has pulled in $1.9 million so far this year, compared with Richardson's $735,000. Richardson has also been spending his money at a faster clip.

Kitzhaber has his own big timber donors, including Timber Products Co. of Springfield, Hampton Lumber Sales of Portland, and Roseburg Forest Products Co.



Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley picked up an endorsement from a firefighters union that endorsed his opponent in his last campaign.

The Oregon State Fire Fighters Council said Merkley “has proven himself a leader on the issues that are most important to fire fighters and our families.”

The firefighters backed incumbent Republican Gordon Smith in the 2008 campaign. Helped by a national wave of new voters supporting Barack Obama for president, Merkley narrowly defeated Smith and is now seeking a second term.



Members of the GOP's State Central Committee looked at the Oregon ballot measures and didn't see any they liked.

The GOP came out against five the seven measures on the November ballot and took no position on the others.

Republicans say voters should reject marijuana legalization and labeling requirements for foods with genetically modified ingredients. The GOP also isn't keen on granting driving privileges to people who can't prove they're legally in the United States, or authorizing the state to sell bonds to provide college financial assistance.

Republicans had previously come out against a measure that would replace the party primary elections with a top-two primary, in which the top two vote-getters in the May election advance to November. On that one — and only that one — they agreed with Democrats.


Follow AP political reporter Jonathan J. Cooper at http://twitter.com/jjcooper .

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