By Associated Press • 

Gallagher defeats Lee to win state GOP chair

Of the Associated Press

PORTLAND — It is Suzanne Gallagher's turn to help the Oregon Republican Party snap its losing streak.

The party's state central committee on Saturday picked the Republican activist to be its chairwoman. She defeated John Lee Jr., the chairman of the Clackamas County GOP, 66-52 on the second round of balloting that took place in Salem.

Former congressional candidate Art Robinson fell from the race earlier in the day after he finished third — six votes behind Lee — in the initial round of balloting.

Gallagher replaces Allen Alley, who did not run, and will serve a two-year term through the 2014 election, which will be headlined by races for governor and U.S. Senate.

The party has not won a statewide race in a decade, controls just one of five congressional seats and is the minority party in the state House and Senate.

To break the losing streak in statewide elections, the party must overcome a significant registration disadvantage. Just under a third of Oregon's 2.2 million registered voters are Republicans, and Democrats outnumber them by 190,000.

Gallagher did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. She previously told The Associated Press that it will take an army of volunteers to overcome the registration disparity, and the party must rally around an economic question: “Whose money is it?”

Gallagher unsuccessfully ran for the state House in 2004 and Senate in 2012 from districts that heavily favored Democrats.

Lee and Robinson also did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

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