By editorial board • 

Pierce is our pick for GOP gubernatorial nomination

Given Oregon’s recent history of Democratic domination, there seems little likelihood Bud Pierce or Allen Alley will unseat Democrat Kate Brown from the governor’s office in November.

The Democratic Party holds every statewide office, both U.S. Senate seats, four of five U.S. House seats and big majorities in both legislative chambers. It hasn’t lost a gubernatorial election since 1983.

Democrats tend to run up insurmountable margins in the populous Portland Metropolitan Area. Brown hails from there, and has already established a winning statewide track record.

But elections do matter, even primary elections designed simply to determine a party nominee. The choice Republicans make in the Pierce/Alley race could set them up for either continued failure or breakthrough success.

Before its perilous rightward lurch, the GOP held the governor’s office continuously from 1939 to 1957 and 1959 to 1987, with only a two-year Democratic interregnum separating its runs. So it’s certainly possible the party will someday find its way back to the center, where most elections are ultimately decided.

With that in mind, we favor Pierce, a fresh face with fresh ideas. Alley’s failing bids for state treasurer in 2008 and governor in 2010 have left him looking shopworn by comparison.

Pierce, a Salem oncologist, is as self-made as they come. He lost his dad at 14, but didn’t let that stop him.

In high school, he worked nights and weekends as a bag boy and still achieved valedictory honors. He went on to earn Ph.D. and M.D. degrees from UCLA and land an assistant professorship there.

Along the way, he served as a Navy and Marine Corps reserve. He also married and had a daughter.

Pierce’s platform is comfortably moderate. Unlike those of most recent GOP standard-bearers, it holds serious bipartisan appeal.

He calls for keeping Oregon “at the forefront of innovation,” taking “a sustainable approach to protecting and using our state’s natural resources” and “investing in education.” He terms government regulations “critical to protecting Oregonians’ health, safety and welfare,” as long as they are not overly restrictive or intrusive. He says, “The traditional family comes in many forms,” thus “there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for supporting our families.”

Full of more than generic talking points, Pierce wants to establish a commission to examine state program spending and recommend closure or consolidation to lessen administration costs and slow state spending growth; push for an appeal of the low-carbon fuel mandate and consider the effect on small businesses of any bill he signs; and, finally, face the growing PERS budget crisis with reform and pursue separate solutions to the Cadillac Tax issues. Those are a few of many solutions he presents on his campaign site.  

Alley, a Lake Oswego businessman, holds an engineering degree from Purdue. He has experience with Ford, Boeing, InFocus and Pixelworks.

A former party chair, he probably leans closer to recent Republican views. But that thinking has left the party marginalized and demoralized, and we believe the good doctor might provide a useful antidote.

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