John Kroger (D)
Hardy Myers (D)
SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline)-John Kroger was sworn in Monday as Oregon's new attorney general, succeeding fellow Democrat Hardy Myers, who led the state Department of Justice since 1996.
Kroger, a former federal prosecutor and law school professor, has not previously held political office. From the start of the Democratic primary, Kroger was backed by the state's most powerful unions: the Oregon Education Association, the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union Locals 503 and 49.
He handily beat out veteran state Rep. Greg Macpherson, a Democrat. No Republican ran for the office.
"As your attorney general, I will get up every day and work as a hard as I can to protect you and your family," Kroger said Monday. "My priorities are clear: fighting crime, protecting the environment, and defending children and consumers."
Kroger said under his leadership, the attorney general's office will also be dedicated to "promoting a positive business climate."
Kroger also praised his predecessor, saying he will ask the Legislature to name the current Justice Building in honor of Myers.
"I have great respect for Hardy Myers," Kroger said. "He was a great attorney general and a great speaker of the Oregon House. His career exemplifies the values we hold dear at the Oregon Department of Justice: integrity, public service, and commitment to the rule of law."
Kroger, who campaigned promising to be more aggressive than his predecessor, made at least two senior appointments that signaled to observers that he could be an activist attorney general.
Among Kroger's first appointments was that of Brent Foster, the executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper and a staunch opponent of liquefied natural gas terminals in Oregon. He also appointed Margaret Olney to oversee elections-law reforms enacted in 2007.
"It seems clear to me that Kroger is very serious about using the laws of the state aggressively against people who pollute or who do things that are contrary to environmental laws," Oregon State University political science Professor Bill Lunch said in an earlier interview.
Olney has litigated election issues on behalf of groups such as the Service Employees International Union and the Oregon Education Association, both of which were big campaign contributors to Kroger.
"Kroger has very close links to unions, and that runs back to the (Democratic) primary," Lunch said. "Olney's appointment is another reflection of the strength of the unions on the Democratic side."
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.