The whirlwind candidacy of Ellen Rosenblum, Oregon's next attorney general

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June 20, 2012

By Maresa Strano

2012 attorney general candidate Rosenblum will get a rare dress rehearsal serving out Kroger's unexpired term

SALEM, Oregon: Current Oregon attorney general John Kroger (D) will vacate his seat by the end of June, six months before his voter-confirmed successor is scheduled to take office. As Kroger prepares to move to Portland to start his new job as President of Reed College, 2012 Democratic attorney general nominee and presumptive general election victor Ellen Rosenblum readies herself to step into his shoes.[1]Governor John Kitzhaber (D) decided to appoint Rosenblum interim attorney general until the formal conclusion of the 2012 election season. Rosenblum’s appointment - referred to as “an historic moment" by Gov. Kitzhaber - will make her the first woman to hold the position in Beaver state history.[2] She will be sworn in on June 29.

Rosenblum's legal background is set entirely in Oregon. Credits include serving as Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, where she specialized in financial crimes, appointment to the Multnomah County District Court in 1989, and later, to the Circuit Court, by former Governor Barbara Roberts, and six years serving on the Oregon Court of Appeals, presiding over cases cases ranging from small claims to major civil litigation and serious crimes.[3] Rosenblum’s dedication to the state helped propel her to primary victory on May 15, along with her popular, lenient stance on marijuana enforcement.

The dearth of major party opposition, coupled with her decisive win over Dwight Holton in the Democratic primary race made her an obvious, if presumptuous, choice for the appointment. Serving in an interim capacity will give Rosenblum an opportunity to familiarize herself the role early, and “smooth the transition,” she and Kroger echoed to the press after Kitzhaber’s announcement.[2]

Despite the air of inevitability surrounding Rosenblum’s upgrade from appointed to elected attorney general, she will still need to overtake Republican write-in challenger James Buchal in November to cement her position.[4] Buchal, a Portland attorney, received 12,816 write-in votes in the primary- enough to qualify him for the GOP slot on the general election ballot, according to official results published by the secretary of state’s office.[5] Buchal wants to bring more accountability to state government, and believes that voters "are tired of living in a state where there has been one-party rule for so long." Indeed, no Republican has been elected to statewide executive office in Oregon in almost 25 years.[6]

Rosenblum is mindful that serving out Kroger's unexpired term does not guarantee a subsequent full term of her own. "People are going to be watching me carefully, and closely, and they should be," she said in an interview about her performance leading up to her face-off with Buchal this fall.[2]

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