By editorial board • 

Thatcher, Rosenblum, Read get the nod for state offices

A political race with the most on the line this year in Oregon doesn’t feature Joe Biden, Jeff Merkley or Suzanne Bonamici. It is between Kim Thatcher and Shemia Fagan, who are vying to replace the late Dennis Richardson as secretary of state.

There is little doubt who’s going to hold sway with Oregon voters up the ticket. But the Thatcher-Fagan race seems genuinely up for grabs.

We harbor some reservations about both candidates, based on their legislative records. However, we give the edge to Thatcher, a Keizer Republican who has made government accountability the hallmark of her service.

We believe Thatcher a bit too partisan and doctrinaire. And we find some of her stances on hot-button issues, notably gun control and immigration, too extreme.

However, she served 10 years in the House to Fagan’s four, then six years in the Senate to Fagan’s four. Experience isn’t everything, but we feel Thatcher has put hers to good use, growing and evolving over time. We find Fagan’s on the light side for a candidate for the state’s second-highest office.

Thatcher has focused on government accountability throughout her career, and that’s one of the office’s two main areas of responsibility, the other being elections. In addition, she boasts experience working in accounting in her private life and serving on the Joint Audits Committee in her public life.

We supported Richardson four years ago partly because we felt he would be a more independent and aggressive wielder of the office’s auditing function. And the longtime GOP legislator proved that in spades during stellar service cut short by cancer.

There is something to be said for putting a Republican in charge of keeping the government honest, when that government is thoroughly dominated by the opposing party.

When it comes to Fagan, her lack of experience in high office is compounded by her record of staunch partisanship and unswerving allegiance to the state’s powerful public employee unions.

There’s a reason she raised more than $1.5 million in three legislative runs, compared to $800,000 for Thatcher in seven legislative attempts — union backing. That’s also how she was able to raise $765,000, more than double her two opponents combined, in winning the Democratic secretary of state nomination.

We are wary of someone that beholden to a single special interest, particularly one with the outsized muscle of Oregon’s public employee unions.

We have been disappointed in Ellen Rosenblum’s apparent lack of independence at the Justice Department helm. It seems to us she’s broken a long bi-partisan tradition in getting too cozy with the fellow Democrats in the governor’s office and Legislature. That underscores one of our concerns with Fagan, should she become secretary of state.

However, unlike Fagan, Rosenblum lacks a credible opponent. We don’t see obscure Republican Michael Cross mounting a serious challenge for attorney general, while Libertarian Lars Hedbor figures to prove nothing more than a footnote.

And to be fair, Rosenblum has excelled in other areas. She has, for example, managed her staff very effectively and proven exceptional as a consumer advocate. 

State Treasurer Tobias Read is perhaps the promising candidate in the Democratic Party. We like the job he’s done and don’t see Republican challenger Jeff Gudman as a viable alternative.



NR I am disappointed to read your endorsement of Thatcher for Secretary of State. In a position of government accountability I consider ethical behavior quite important.

How can we trust that someone who ran a company which was sanctioned by the state for destroying evidence and covering it up, not to mentioned the alleged fraudulent invoices to be the watchdog on accountability??

Even if we assume she didn't direct those actions herself, which seems unlikely though possible, she's still accountable for it.


Thatcher? Really? Her "experience" includes a bit too much unethical behavior for my taste. She was fined for destroying incriminating records when her company was caught overcharging ODOT. It seems like an important character flaw to consider.
Dismissing Fagan for "staunch partisanship" in favor of Thatcher's staunch partisanship is laughable. Of course, you get to print your opinion, but it seems to me that working people deserve to have a voice at least as much as the powerful, to use your word, business associations and owners to whom Thatcher will owe allegiance.


I have deep misgivings about both of these candidates. If it was possible to ignore the “staunch partisanship” of both candidates, Fagan would be the much better choice, even though my political leanings are closer to Thatcher’s. I have had personal interaction with both women during legislative sessions. I found Fagan to be much more attentive, thoughtful and articulate (not unusual characteristics in an attorney). I came away from Thatcher with the distinct impression that she just wasn’t that bright. The massive union backing of Fagan is troubling, but so are Thatcher’s past ethical lapses and intellectual limitations.


After a cursory search online regarding the race for Oregon's next Secretary of State (2020), I too am a little confused by the NR's endorsement of Kim Thatcher over that of Shemia Fagan. There seems to be a lot of baggage at the Baggage Claim Counter with Thatcher's name on it and in a position such as this we need someone with a clear conscience and a level head like what Richardson brought to the table until his untimely death. For me Thatcher is not the best choice that will serve honorably and capably and apparently Shemia Fagan is the obvious choice for so many in the endorsing business and not Kim Thatcher. Albeit, the NR's choice is their choice to make, and we are all free to vote our own conscience.

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