SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline)-John Kroger, a law school professor and former federal prosecutor, will almost certainly be Oregon's next attorney general, after beating out a veteran state legislator in the state's Democratic primary Tuesday.
With no Republican running to replace retiring Attorney General Hardy Myers, 42-year-old Kroger is widely expected to coast to election in November, barring a successful challenger from a write-in candidate.
Shortly after winning the primary, Kroger told Legal Newsline that he is not taking the primary win for granted, and will begin to plan his general election strategy Wednesday.
"We're going to fight very hard to wrap this up in November," he told LNL, adding that "a thousand" volunteers made his victory possible.
With 61 percent of the vote counted, Kroger led fellow Democrat Greg Macpherson 55 percent to 44 percent.
Kroger, who was backed heavily by the state's largest union groups, out fundraised Macpherson, a three-term state representative from Lake Oswego.
According to recent state campaign finance filings, Kroger raked in $709,532, compared to Macpherson's $433,009. Macpherson made a $40,000 loan to his campaign.
Throughout the campaign, Kroger touted his law enforcement bona fides as a former federal prosecutor, vowing to pursue corporate scofflaws, environmental polluters, drug dealers and flimflam artists who prey on Oregonians.
"We have been very, very specific about our priorities from the first day of the campaign," Kroger said in an interview. "The things we ran on are the things that we intend to do."
As a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn, N.Y., Kroger said during the campaign that he prosecuted mafia bosses, helped put drug kingpins behind bars and worked on the U.S. Justice Department's Enron Task Force.
Macpherson, meanwhile, ran as a seasoned state legislator who told voters that as attorney general he can build on his successes in the Legislature.
Macpherson criticized Kroger frequently -- and publicly-- for not passing the Oregon State Bar until last year, and for never representing a client in an Oregon state courtroom.
Endorsed by Myers, 57-year-old Macpherson, an employee benefits attorney at the Portland firm of Stoel Rives LLP, said his time in the state Legislature would give him a unique advantage over his opponent.
But Oregon voters didn't agree.
Kroger, who teaches criminal law and jurisprudence at Portland's Lewis & Clark Law School, was backed by the state's largest unions, including the powerful Oregon Education Association, the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union Locals 503 and 49.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.