Oregon governor race attracts two GOP challengers

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July 30, 2013

By Maresa Strano


SALEM, Oregon: Oregon is one of 36 states holding regularly scheduled gubernatorial elections in the upcoming 2014 electoral cycle.

The Oregon Republican Party has had a difficult time fielding viable candidates for top executive offices in recent elections, and those candidates who have stepped up to run on the GOP ticket have found scarce success inducing voters to choose them over their Democratic counterparts. The party's abysmal record electing its members to statewide posts has led to low party morale in general, but particularly among those promising Republican potential candidates who perhaps once toyed with the possibility of a bid but have since grown resigned to the inevitability of defeat.

Only two Republicans have held statewide office in the last two decades: Treasurer Tony Meeker and Attorney General Charles Crookham, both of whom left office in 1993.[1] The condition looks most severe from the Governor's mansion, which no Republican has called home in over 30 years.[2]

The state's Democratic electorate, especially within influential cities like Portland and Eugene, easily overwhelms the determination of the Republicans and the 6 percent of voters affiliated with third parties.[2] Heading into last year's primary election season, just 32 percent of Oregonians were registered Republicans. The general election passed on November 6, 2012 with the GOP failing to claim any of the four available state executive seats.

Such was the sad state of the party's prospects coming off the 2012 elections that there was considerable expectation that no Republican candidates would bid to challenge popular Democratic incumbent John Kitzhaber in the 2014 governor race.

But alas, as of July 2013, two Republican hopefuls have emerged: First, rancher and businessman Jon Justesen declared his candidacy, followed by Dennis Richardson (R), a ten year veteran of the Oregon House of Representatives. Richardson joined the race for Governor of Oregon last week.[3]

Kitzhaber has yet to announce if he is seeking re-election.[3]

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