State Rep. Greg Macpherson
John KrogerSALEM (Legal Newsline)-The union representing assistant attorneys general in Oregon on Friday threw their support behind state Rep. Greg Macpherson, who is vying for the Democratic nomination to succeed their boss. The endorsement by the Oregon Association of Justice Attorneys is a major win for Macpherson, whose opponent, John Kroger, is backed by the state's three largest labor organizations: the AFL-CIO, SEIU Locals 503 and 49 and the Oregon Education Association. In its endorsement, the OAJA that represents about 250 state attorneys at the Oregon Department of Justice said it knows well the skills that are needed to be an effective attorney general, and Macpherson exhibits those traits, they said. "Rep. Greg Macpherson has the combination of legislative experience and knowledge of Oregon government to get the job done. Rep. Macpherson, who has chaired the Oregon House Judiciary Committee, also has a deep understanding of the nature and functions of the Department of Justice," the endorsement said. Macpherson, a three-term state legislator, is an employee benefits attorney at the Portland firm of Stoel Rives LLP, the state's largest private law firm. He and Kroger are both seeking to replace retiring Attorney General Hardy Myers, who has led the Oregon Department of Justice since 1996. The two Democrats will face off in the May 20 primary. No Republican candidate is running. Kroger, who teaches law at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, has been endorsed by the state's most powerful union groups, including the Service Employees International Union Local 503, which represents some of the staff at the state Department of Justice. Macpherson has been also endorsed by Myers, Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski and many of his Democratic legislative colleagues. Kroger, meanwhile, has the backing of most of the state's large labor unions, and has been endorsed by at least 17 county district attorneys, former Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber and former state Labor Commissioner Dan Gardner. Many of the state's unions have not backed Macpherson because of the pivotal role he played in overhauling the state's Public Employees Retirement System in 2003. Many union leaders blame Macpherson for a plan that reduced benefits to state workers. Macpherson says the plan, parts of which have since been struck down by the state Supreme Court, kept the state pension system solvent amid billions of dollars in unfunded liability. From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at email@example.com.