We haven't always seen eye to eye with Dennis Richardson, and we didn't endorse him when he ran for governor in 2014. We didn't think his staunch social conservative views were a good fit for the top job in a socially liberal state, and we still believe that.
But secretary of state, the post he's seeking now, meshes well with his skills, and it's not a policy-making job. Done right, it's not really a partisan position.
We think voters should choose Richardson for the job.
Richardson's opponent, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, sees the post as a launching pad for a progressive policy agenda — and, more than likely, for a run for governor down the road.
Richardson says he's through running for governor, and plans to serve two terms as secretary of state and retire.
The two primary functions of the secretary of state are running elections and auditing government agencies. Richardson says the audits division should function as a General Accounting Office for the state, making sure tax dollars are being spend efficiently and effectively. He wants detailed audits of the Cover Oregon debacle and the state Energy Department, among others.
Avakian's campaign touts his accomplishments in going after businesses that defrauded customers and workers, which was appropriate as labor commissioner, but he plans to use the audits division to target private companies that do business with the state, to make sure they are complying with applicable laws. If state contracts are carefully written and properly administered, separate audits shouldn't be a routine necessity.
Richardson spent years in the Legislature, specializing in budget and spending matters as co-chairman of the Ways and Means Committee when the House was split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. He did a creditable job of working with the other party to craft a budget.
Democrats have occupied every statewide elected office for years now, and the party has had its way with state government as a result. One-party rule hasn't always been good for Oregon, and it wouldn't hurt to have a little diversity of approach.
We recommend voters choose Dennis Richardson for secretary of state.