Kroger, Brown win statewide races

and William Mccall


Oregon Democrats chose a longtime lawmaker as their candidate for secretary of state, while tapping a political newcomer for attorney general.

After easily winning the Democratic nomination, law professor John Kroger will almost certainly be Oregon's next attorney general, since no Republicans entered the primary.

With 88 percent of the expected vote tallied, Kroger had 56 percent to 44 percent for Macpherson in race that was dominated by big spending by unions for Kroger and negative advertising by Macpherson.

Former Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown of Portland got 51 percent of the vote in the secretary of state's race, to 28 percent for state Sen. Rick Metsger of Welches and 18 percent for state Sen. Vicki Walker of Eugene.

She will face off in November against Republican Rick Dancer, a former TV news anchor from Eugene.

Brown said she'd keep talking about key themes, including revamping the state's initiative system, registering more young voters and putting more focus on auditing the performance of state agencies.

"I just beat one newscaster named Rick, and now I am going to beat another one," she said, referring to Metsger, who used to be a sportscaster. "These guys are good with a microphone, but I can tackle them."

The secretary of state's primary stayed polite, unlike the attorney general contest. Kroger had criticized Macpherson as a political insider who had never been in court during his career as a corporate attorney. But it was Macpherson who fielded negative campaign ads on television trying to portray Kroger as an outsider hopelessly out of touch with Oregon issues.

In one ad that ran over and over, Macpherson parodied the "Mac vs. PC" ads for Apple computers, trying to make Kroger appear inept.

But the strategy apparently backfired as Kroger kept to the high road, emphasizing his trial experience battling organized crime and Enron fraud as a federal prosecutor.

"Greg Macpherson was a formidable opponent," Kroger said, "but it shows the power of ideas in politics."

Kroger pointed out that elections officials will not know until later this year whether any minor party candidates will qualify for the November general election, "so we don't take anything for granted."

But if he emerges as the lone candidate to replace departing Attorney General Hardy Myers, Kroger said, his two top priorities will be "tackling the Oregon methamphetamine crisis, the single largest cause of child abuse in the state," and doing more to protect the environment.

Voters also overwhelmingly approved a pair of measures to expand the role of crime victims in trials and sentencing.

Measures 51 and 52 make essentially the same changes to two different sections of the Oregon Constitution, guaranteeing the right to be present at key stages in a case and to be heard at sentencing. It also grants the right of appeal for victims who claim their rights are denied.

Voters narrowly approved a third statewide measure on the primary ballot, Measure 53, which would amend the Oregon Constitution to modify the limits voters placed on civil forfeiture in 2000.

The state Legislature also had its share of competitive primaries. In the state Senate, Republican Chris Telfer won the right to compete for the Bend-area seat vacated by Democrat Ben Westlund, who is running for state treasurer, while former Rep. Jackie Dingfelder cruised to victory in the Democratic primary in her very liberal Portland-area district.

Former U.S. Rep. Jim Bunn lost his bid for a state House seat in Yamhill County, losing in the GOP primary to software developer and restaurant owner Jim Weidner.

In Hood River County, in a district that's been trending Democratic, former ultimate fighting champion Matt Lindland won the GOP primary against bed-and-breakfast owner Phyllis Thiemann.

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