By editorial board • 

RIchardson has pedigree for serious run as GOP candidate

The three-way Democratic primary for Oregon Secretary of State is expected to remain tightly competitive to the end. On the GOP side, however, we expect former state Rep. Dennis Richardson to easily turn back his challenger, Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken, and rightfully so. 

Richardson is on the comeback trail after losing to John Kitzhaber 50 percent to 44 percent in a gubernatorial run — not such a bad showing in a state that hasn’t elected a Republican to statewide office in more than a decade.

One of the least palatable characteristics of Richardson’s Oregon gubernatorial attempt was his strongly held social conservatism. But that shouldn’t come into play in his bid for the Secretary of State’s Office, as that office plays no role whatsoever in such issues as women’s reproductive rights.

Richardson’s previous statewide experience affords him the best chance of claiming the office for the GOP. And his previous experience as a lawyer and legislator also makes him the best qualified.

The secretary of state is in charge of registering corporations, applying election laws, auditing government agencies and maintaining state archives. He or she also holds one of three seats on the State Land Board, steward for lands in state ownership.

Richardson grew up in Los Angeles. After serving in the U.S. Army as a helicopter pilot, he earned bachelor’s and law degrees at Brigham Young University. He then established a law practice in Central Point, near Medford.

In his campaign announcement, he took pains to paint his social views, which coincide with his Latter-day Saints’ faith, as a non-factor. “In this position, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a social conservative or social liberal,” he said.

Leiken, a fifth-generation Oregonian, has a legacy of business experience in the dry cleaning industry. He served as mayor of Springfield for 10 years before winning election to the board of county commissioners in 2010. He was once considered an up-and-comer in the state Republican party, but his 2009 campaign to unseat Rep. Peter DeFazio in the 4th Congressional District was derailed on a campaign finance violation.

The two candidates have similar views on the function of the office they are seeking, but Richardson offers more substance to his talking points.

He favors giving minority parties a seat at the table in the election process and fostering an environment where whistleblowers are encouraged to reveal corruption, without fear of retribution. With stances like that, he could be the kind of government bulldog needed in this position.

Richardson is known by colleagues for his intellect, a laser-like focus on issues and strong problem-solving skills. He’s the GOP’s best hope in this race, and could well prove the state’s best hope in November.

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