Oregon needs strong candidates from all parties

Salem oncologist William C. “Bud” Pierce will officially announce his campaign for Oregon governor on Sept. 10. His candidacy is good news for the Mid-Valley, for Pierce’s fellow Republicans and for Oregon.

Citizens are ill-served when one political party dominates statewide politics, as Democrats have done for years. That one-party rule helps exacerbate Oregon’s urban-rural divide.

Oregonians have not elected a Republican governor since Vic Atiyeh in the 1980s. Currently, both U.S. senators, the secretary of state, the state treasurer and the attorney general are Democrats. So, too, is the state labor commissioner, although his office officially is nonpartisan. The only Republican in the state’s congressional delegation is from outside the Willamette Valley, representing Eastern, Central and Southern Oregon.

That political history makes it even more difficult for a Republican to get elected statewide.

Through the decades, Democrats have been able to maintain a deep array of in-state campaign consultants, managers and volunteers. In contrast, Republicans have lacked the successful statewide candidates to keep such statewide professional and grass-roots campaign networks alive for their party.

Any number of past candidates, Republicans and Democrats alike, have imported campaign managers and advisers from California or the East Coast. Sometimes, those outsiders were successful. Often, however, the resulting campaigns stumbled because the so-called experts did not grasp the culture of Oregon. Someone who does not understand Oregonians is a poor adviser on how to connect with Oregonians.

It is far too soon to judge whom Oregonians should elect as their next governor, let alone who the best candidates would be. Democrat Kate Brown has served competently since succeeding John Kitzhaber early this year. Brown is expected to seek election next year but has not yet declared her candidacy. Other Democrats might also run. On the Republican side, other qualified people likely will join Pierce. The Independent Party has achieved the major party status, and it will have candidates. So, too, will some minor parties.

Despite his lack of political experience, Pierce is qualified in many ways. He has the leadership experience of being president of the Oregon Medical Association. He knows the issues affecting Salem and the region. He is intellectually brilliant but down to earth. He and his wife, Selma, have a long record of contributing to the community.

Perhaps most important, Bud Pierce is regarded as a person of good character. Regardless of the outcome, it is good for Oregon when such people seek elected office.