Oregon's AG race to be settled Tuesday

Chris Rizo May 19, 2008, 1:51pm

John Kroger

Greg Macpherson

SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline)-In Oregon, the nation's only vote-by-mail state, voters will know Tuesday night who will almost certainly be their next attorney general.

Ballots have been coming in since May 4, and the preliminary results will be announced Tuesday.

With no Republican in the running, it has been a pitched race for months between veteran state lawmaker Greg Macpherson and law school professor John Kroger.

A recent poll indicates that the two Democrats are running neck-and-neck among decided voters, despite Kroger out fundraising Macpherson, $709,532 to Macpherson's $433,009.

The poll released last week by The Portland Tribune and KPTV-12 indicated that Macpherson leads Kroger 26 percent to 22 percent.

The poll suggested that about 46 percent of voters were undecided.

The two candidates are vying to replace retiring Attorney General Hardy Myers, a Democrat who has quietly led the Oregon Department of Justice since 1996.

Macpherson, a three-term state representative from Lake Oswego, has run as a seasoned state legislator who says as attorney general he can build on his successes in the Legislature.

Macpherson said he has a "proven track record of protecting Oregonians," while Kroger said if elected he would crackdown on polluters, drug dealers and flimflam artists.

Kroger has said his vast experience as a federal prosecutor in New York has prepared him to fight for Oregonians, vowing to litigate important cases himself.

Macpherson, a 57-year-old employee benefits attorney at the Portland firm of Stoel Rives LLP, says his time in the state Legislature gives him a unique advantage over his opponent.

He said he will use the relationships he's forged as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to protect the state's consumers and their civil rights, and can protect the Beaver State's vast natural resources.

Macpherson has been endorsed by state Attorney General Hardy Myers and Gov. Ted Kulongoski, both Democrats, and many of his Democratic legislative colleagues.

Kroger, who teaches criminal law and jurisprudence at Portland's Lewis & Clark Law School, is backed by the state's largest unions and by many of the state's district attorneys.

He has said he comes to the attorney general's race with vast courtroom trial and appellate experience and a "deep background" in public safety.

His No. 1 priority, he said, is addressing the state's methamphetamine epidemic. He said overhauling the state's drug treatment programs is the key to reducing crime in the state.

State elections officials are expecting a record voter turnout.

As of Thursday, more than 582,000 ballots for the Democratic and Republican primaries have been submitted. By comparison, about 420,000 ballots were received in 2004.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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