Brown holds off Buehler to hold on to secretary of state office

Brown holds off Buehler to hold on to secretary of state office
Oregon Democratic Secretary of State Kate Brown celebrates at the podium after winning her race at Democratic headquarters in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Democratic Secretary of State Kate Brown was re-elected as Oregon secretary of state Tuesday following a bitter race against a well-funded Republican challenger.

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Treasurer Ted Wheeler, both Democrats, also were re-elected. Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, also a Democrat, led challenger Bruce Starr, a Republican state senator.

Brown and Avakian were helped by a late barrage of negative advertising funded by unions and a top Democratic Party donor.

Republican Knute Buehler, an orthopedic surgeon from Bend, tried to portray Brown as inept and uninspiring during her first term as secretary of state. Buehler styled himself as a pragmatic moderate and promised to advocate campaign finance restrictions and cuts to public-employee pensions.

Brown reminded voters that Buehler is a Republican without any experience in elected office. She emphasized the work of her auditing division, which has identified millions in potential savings for state government.

The race for labor commissioner is technically nonpartisan, but both parties invested heavily in the race. The labor commissioner runs the Bureau of Labor and Industries, which is responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination and workplace laws.

The secretary of state is in charge of various behind-the-scene government functions: registering corporations, applying election laws, auditing government agencies and maintaining the state archives. The secretary is first in line to be governor if the chief executive dies or steps down.

Oregon GOP officials hoped Buehler and Starr would end the Republican Party's decade-long drought in statewide races.

Democrats have controlled the office since the 1984 election, when Barbara Roberts became the first Democratic secretary of state in more than a century.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.