Speculation points to Richardson run for governor seat

State Rep. Dennis Richardson of Central Point has called a news conference for this morning, and at least one media outlet says it appears he will announce he's running for governor.

Richardson, a 63-year-old Republican who has served six terms in the Oregon Legislature, will hold a news conference at 8 a.m. at the War Memorial in Don Jones Park, 223 W. Vilas Road, Central Point. He also announced news conferences for later today in Portland, Eugene and Bend.

In an email blast with the salutation "Friends, Patriots and Fellow Oregonians," Richardson issued an invitation to the event, saying, "With your support, we will change the course of Oregon's future for the better."

Jeff Mapes, a political reporter and columnist for The Oregonian, wrote in his blog Tuesday that Richardson is holding news conferences around the state "... apparently to announce his candidacy for governor next year."

The Mail Tribune was unable to reach Richardson for comment Tuesday.

Mapes wrote that when he asked Richardson whether he planned to run for governor, Richardson replied, "Everybody has been after me to do this, and tomorrow morning there will be discussion about it."

Richardson, a lawyer, has held leadership positions in the Legislature, including as co-chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which produces the budget recommendations for state agencies and state-supported services such as the K-12 education system and the state university system.

In his email announcing the press conference, Richardson wrote: "We cannot wait any longer for our elected officials to put Oregon back on the right track. Our state's current leaders are determined to protect the 'coalition of the status quo,' so it's up to us to develop our own plan to restore our economy, reform our schools and renew our natural resource policies."

Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, is eligible to serve one more term in office, but he has not announced whether he will do so. Mapes wrote that John Justesen, a Sherman County rancher, has indicated he will seek the Republican nomination for governor.

State Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, told his Facebook readers to be prepared for an announcement. His post read: "ATTENTION!!!! Listen tomorrow as a great individual will announce that they are running for Governor in Oregon! All of us will be very pleased and excited ! This is a individual we can all be excited about and work for to be our leader!! Stay Tuned !!!!!!!"

Richardson, a Vietnam veteran, grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Oregon in 1979, after receiving his law degree from J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. Prior to serving in the Legislature, he was a council member in Central Point and was chairman of the Central Point School District's Budget Committee.

He also was treasurer of the Oregon State Republican Party from 1999 to 2003, just prior to his first term in the Legislature.

Bob Hunter is editor of the Ashland Daily Tidings and the Mail Tribune. Reach him at bhunter@mailtribune.com.

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