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Oregon Attorney General election, 2012

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The Oregon attorney general election will take place on November 6, 2012. Election day polling hours are from 6 am until 6 pm.

On May 15, Ellen Rosenblum handily defeated Dwight Holton in the Democratic primary race for Attorney General of Oregon. The polls closed at 8pm and the race was called soon thereafter, with only 50% of the votes counted. At the time the race was called, Rosenblum boasted a 63%-37% lead over her opponent, securing the party's nomination, and, without a viable general election challenger, the office of attorney general.[1]

Current Democratic Oregon attorney general John Kroger announced last October that he would be retiring upon expiration of his term in 2012, citing an undisclosed health problem. [2] Kroger's retirement left the 2012 Democratic primary race wide open. Of the three candidates who originally declared their intentions to seek the party's nomination, two remained: Ellen Rosenblum and Dwight Holton. Rosenblum is a retired Appeals Court Judge and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. Holton served formerly as the head of the United States Attorney’s Oregon Office and acting U.S. Attorney.[3]

The two standing candidates presented impressive and vastly different backgrounds for Oregon's Democratic voters to consider. Their shared moderate political sensibility but diverging sets of credentials made for a tight race. "Rosenblum has the edge in her familiarity with the Oregon court system, Holton has more proven management experience."[4]

The most divisive issue of the race was about the candidates' positions on Oregon's Medical Marijuana Act. Holton had referred to the 1998 ballot initiative to permit doctor-authorized medical marijuana use as a "train-wreck". Though he had pledged to enforce the voter-approved law if elected, he indirectly assisted in federal raids on state-sanctioned grow-sites while working for the U.S. Attorneys office. He also said he believes that the law has fostered black-market activity and a move toward "back-door legalization".[5] Rosenblum, on the other hand, won over the pro-cannibus community by assuring that "personal marijuana use is the lowest priority for law enforcement" and promising to defend the state against federal interference with OMMA rights.[5]

Reports released as of one month before the primary showed Holton, who is Kroger's first choice to succeed him in office, gaining a financial advantage over Rosenblum thanks to support from the state's largest union, Service Employees International Union. The SEIU famously backed Kroger's final campaign for attorney general with a $300,000 donation. A modest sum by comparison, the $20,000 Holton has received from the union is nonetheless substantial- especially when combined with endowments obtained from the Oregon Education Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 48, two other unions known as "powerhouses in state politics".[6] The advantage all but vanished, however, when in the eleventh hour Rosenblum received a gift of $70,000 - the biggest single contribution for either campaign that season - from the drug law reform group Drug Policy Action, whose goal was to prevent Holton, who was less enthusiastic about the prospect of enforcing Oregon's Medical Marijuana Law, from winning the election.[7]

Because no Republican candidates filed for the election, the general expectation was for the race to be settled in the primary on May 15. Fulfillment of this expectation hinged on the performance of the GOP's write-in candidate, James Buchal. Buchal is a property-rights lawyer and three-time candidate for State House. In 2008, the party failed to recruit a standard candidate for the office. In the absence of any strong write-in Republicans, Kroger (D) ultimately won both the GOP and Democratic party nominations. The Republicans were determined to prevent a repeat of that election and make sure a pattern would not form. About the 2008 incident of bipartisan convergence upon the primary Democratic candidate, Oregon's GOP chief of staff Greg Leo told the press on May 3 that “It’s grated on us so much that we said next time we have a vacancy for statewide office, let’s do a write-in campaign and make sure a Republican fills that spot.”[8]

  • Administrative deadlines are at close of business (5:00) unless otherwise noted.
Deadline Event
Mar. 6 Last day to file candidacy
Apr. 24 Voter registration for primary election
May 15 Primary election
June 14 Certification of election results
Nov. 6 General election
1 Results
2 Candidates
2.1 Democratic primary candidates
2.2 Republican primary candidates
2.3 Other
3 Endorsements


Oregon Attorney General Democratic Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngEllen Rosenblum 64.4% 197,366
Dwight Holton 35.4% 108,356
Write-in votes 0.2% 614
Total Votes 306,336
Election Results via Oregon Live.



Donkey symbol.png Democratic primary candidates

Gop logo2.jpg Republican primary candidates

Former candidates

  • Portland lawyer Katherine Heekin pulled out of the race in early February. Heekin was reportedly discouraged by the tremendous support her fellow candidates garnered for their campaigns early on.[10]


Dwight Holton

  • Baker County District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff
  • Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson
  • Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote
  • Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis
  • Columbia County District Attorney Steve Atchison
  • Crook County District Attorney Daina Vitolins
  • Curry County District Attorney Everett Dial
  • Gilliam County District Attorney Marion Weatherford
  • Grant County District Attorney Ryan Joslin
  • Harney County District Attorney Tim Colahan
  • Hood River County District Attorney John Sewell
  • Jackson County District Attorney Mark Huddleston
  • Jefferson County District Attorney Steve Leriche
  • Josephine County District Attorney Steve Campbell
  • Lake County District Attorney David Schutt
  • Lincoln County District Attorney Rob Bovett
  • Linn County District Attorney Jason Carlile
  • Malheur County District Attorney Dan Norris
  • Marion County District Attorney Walt Beglau
  • Morrow County District Attorney Justin Nelson
  • Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schrunk
  • Tillamook County District Attorney Bill Porter
  • Umatilla County District Attorney Dan Primus
  • Union County District Attorney Tim Thompson
  • Wallowa County District Attorney Mona Williams
  • Wasco County District Attorney Eric Nisley
  • Washington County District Attorney Bob Hermann
  • Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry
  • Attorney General John Kroger
  • Multnomah County Commissioner Diane McKeel
  • Multnomah County Commissioner Judy Shiprack
  • Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith
  • Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard
  • The Oregonian Editorial Board[11]
  • Steve Novich

Ellen Rosenblum

  • Association of Federal, State, County & Municipal Employees Council 75
  • Former Attorney General Hardy Myers
  • Emily's list (fund-raising network women candidates)
  • Former Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer
  • Eugene State Senator Floyd Prozanski
  • Former Secretary of State Norma Paulus
  • Former Multnomah County Chair Bev Stein
  • Former Governor Barbara Roberts
  • Immediate Past President of the Oregon Bar Association Steve Piucci
  • Citizens for Sensible Law Enforcement[12]
  • The Bend Bulletin[13]
  • Klamath County DA Edwin Caleb
  • Association of Federal, State, County & Municipal Employees Council 75

Which Democratic candidate for AG did you already vote for?
Poll Already voted for Holton Already voted for RosenblumAlready voted and UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
SurveyUSA Election Poll #19214 May 10, 2012
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

If you were filling out your ballot in the Democratic primary for Oregon Attorney General today, who would you vote for? (Candidate names rotated) Dwight Holton? or Ellen Rosenblum?
Poll Holton RosenblumUnidecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
SurveyUSA Election Poll #19214 May 10, 2012
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

  • The results of this SurveyUSA poll represent the responses of 432 registered Democrats that had already returned a ballot or were likely to do so in the May 15 Democratic primary. Responses were delivered over home or smartphone over the 3 day polling period between May 7 and May 10.
1 Due dates for reports
2 Candidates

Due dates for reports

The Secretary of State administers campaign finance law and maintains all records online.

As of 2007, there are no longer "scheduled" reporting deadlines. Committees will continuously report campaign finance transactions.



Dwight Holton

His top ten contributors as of May 4, 2012 are listed below.[14]

Donor Amount
Citizens Action for Political Education $25,000.00
Multnomah County Prosecuting Attorneys Association $20,000.00
Pinewood Drading Fund $15,000.00
John Kroger for Attorney General $12,000.00
Local 48 Electricians PAC $10,000.00
Oregon Education Association - People for Improvement of Education (142) $10,000.00
Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC $10,000.00
Kari Miller $10,000,00
Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check LLP $10,000.00
Oregon Education Association - People for Improvement of Education $10,000.00

Ellen Rosenblum

Her top ten contributors as of May 4, 2012 are listed below.[15]

Donor Amount
Drug Policy Action $150,000
Philip Knight $25,000.00
Oregon Beverage PAC $10,000.00
Jay Gellert $5,000.00
Markowitz, Herbold, Glade & Mehlhaf PC $5,000.00
Thorton & Naumes LLP $5,000.00
Emily's List $5,000.00
Miscellaneous Cash Contributions $100 and under $4,088.00
Jan Baisch $4,000.00
Leonard Meeker $2,500.00
1 Results
2 Polls
Coming soon



See also


External links

Suggest a link


  1. Oregon Live, "Oregon 2012 Primary Results," May 15, 2012
  2., "Oregon Attorney General John Kroger shocks employees with announcement that he won't seek re-election," October 18, 2011
  3. The Oregonian, "Former U.S. Attorney announces run for Oregon AG," January 11, 2012
  4. Oregon Live "Oregon Attorney General race comes down to 2 Democrats: Dwight Holton and Ellen Rosenblum," March 8, 2012
  5. 5.0 5.1 Statesman Journal, "Marijuana and the campaign for attorney general," April 30, 2012
  6. Oregon Live, "Dwight Holton reels in $20,000 in union donations," April 6, 2012
  7. Oregon Live, "Drug reform group funnels $70,000 to AG candidate Rosenblum," May 9, 2012
  8. The Statesman Journal, "Oregon GOP backs write-in effort," May 3, 2012
  9. Oregon Live, "Oregon 2012 Primary Results," May 15, 2012
  10. Oregon Live, "Katherine Heekin withdraws from Oregon AG race," February 9, 2012
  11. The Oregonian, "Editorial roundup: A guide to The Oregonian's primary election endorsements," April 30, 2012
  12. Statesman Journal, "Medical marijuana and the campaign for attorney general," April 28, 2012
  13. [ The Bend Bulletin via Rosenblum Campaign Site, "Campaign Press Release-The Bend Bulletin Endorses Ellen Rosenblum for AG," April 16, 2012
  14. Oregon Secretary of State, "Campaign Finance Reports-Dwight Holton," accessed May 4, 2012
  15. Oregon Secretary of State, "Campaign Finance Reports-Ellen Rosenblum," accessed May 4, 2012