Appeals court judge wins Democratic nomination in Ore. AG race

Jessica M. Karmasek May 16, 2012, 1:20pm



SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline) - A former appeals court judge could become Oregon's first female attorney general come November.

In Tuesday's primary election, Democrat Ellen Rosenblum received 165,850 votes, or 63.19 percent of all votes, according to the Secretary of State's unofficial results.

Rosenblum announced in January she was seeking the job of the state's top lawyer.

She began her career practicing law in 1975 at a small firm in Eugene after graduating from the University of Oregon.

Five years later, she became a U.S. Assistant Attorney for the District of Oregon. As a federal prosecutor, she specialized in financial crimes.

In 1989, she was appointed to the Multnomah County District Court. Former Gov. Barbara Roberts later appointed her to the circuit court.

More recently, she served as a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals from 2005 until retiring last year.

In Tuesday's primary, Rosenblum's Democratic opponent, Dwight Holton, picked up 96,136 votes, or 36.63 percent.

Holton, a former federal prosecutor, announced in January he, too, was running for the office. In fact, he resigned from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Oregon to pursue a run.

His father, Abner Lindwood Holton Jr., was the 61st governor of Virginia, serving from 1970 to 1974.

Current Attorney General John Kroger, who said in October he would not seek another term, citing an unspecified illness, endorsed Holton.

However, Rosenblum could up getting a head-start on the job.

Last month, Kroger announced he will resign early to become the head of Reed College, a private, independent liberal arts college in Portland.

"Today, Reed College is announcing that the school has selected me to be their next president. I'm very excited about this opportunity to help lead this great Oregon college," he said in an April 24 statement.

"Because I will need to be on campus for the beginning of the fall semester, I will be stepping down later this summer as attorney general. I have informed the governor of my plans and will work with him to ensure a smooth transition for my successor.

"It has been a great honor to serve as Oregon's attorney general."

Gov. John Kitzhaber is tasked with appointing an interim attorney general, who must be a Democrat like Kroger.

"If he decides he wants to have me on an interim basis, I will accept," Roseblum told the Statesman Journal Tuesday.

And though no Republican candidate filed by the March 6 deadline to run, there appears to be a write-in effort in the works for Portland-area property attorney James Buchal.

According to the Secretary of State's unofficial results, 18,252 GOP write-in votes were received Tuesday.

This wouldn't be the first time Republicans haven't had a candidate of their own file and run for the office.

Kroger was elected attorney general in 2008 after winning the nominations of both Democratic and Republican parties. Republicans did not have a candidate that year.

Oregon's general election is Nov. 6.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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