No GOP candidates for attorney general, treasurer

No GOP candidates for attorney general, treasurer
Workers hang a board showing candidates who have filed to run for office on Tuesday, March 6, 2012, in the Legislative chambers at the capitol, in Salem, Ore. After wrapping up the legislative session, Oregon lawmakers turned their attention Tuesday to the upcoming election. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - The general election is still eight months away, but Oregon's Democratic state treasurer can be pretty certain he'll keep his job because the Republican Party couldn't find anyone to run against him.

The GOP also won't field a candidate to run for state attorney general, so that race will be decided in the May 15 Democratic primary.

As the candidate filing deadline passed Tuesday, no Republicans signed up to run in the top two state races on the 2012 ballot, complicating the GOP's efforts to break into statewide offices they haven't held for nearly two decades.

Oregon Republican Party Chairman Allen Alley said he couldn't find high-caliber candidates capable of competing with Democrats, who are often able to tap the resources of deep-pocketed unions.

"The unions are a formidable foe when it comes to these statewide races," Alley said. "I wanted to make sure we had great candidates."

Incumbent Treasurer Ted Wheeler will still have to be formally elected, and he could technically lose to a write-in candidate.

The GOP won't be entirely unrepresented on the ballot's statewide office. Knute Buehler, an orthopedic surgeon from Bend, has shown early strength in fundraising. Sen. Bruce Starr of Hillsboro is challenging Democratic incumbent Brad Avakian for labor commissioner, although the ballot does not list party affiliations for that post.

The party also has fielded candidates in all five congressional districts.

This will be the second election cycle in a row in which Republicans have not fielded a candidate for attorney general. In 2008, the Republican and Democratic parties both nominated Democrat John Kroger, who shocked observers last year when he dropped his re-election bid, citing health concerns.

Republicans have tried for years to break a Democratic monopoly on partisan statewide offices that dates to 1993, when Treasurer Tony Meeker and Attorney General Charles Crookham left office. The party announced last month that it would let unaffiliated voters cast ballots in the GOP primary for statewide offices this year.
Oregon's primary is May 15.

Despite their struggles to grab statewide offices, Republicans have found recent success in the Legislature, erasing a Democratic supermajority and managing a 30-30 tie in the state House following the 2010 elections. The tie gave Republicans partial control in the House and a seat at the negotiating table.

Election season ramped up the moment state lawmakers closed down the 2012 legislative session late Monday. In the House, where the parties are evenly divided and both are eager to take over the majority, officials wasted no time before laying out their cases.

"The voters of this state want to see private sector job creation," said Rep. Kevin Cameron of Salem, the House Republican leader, told reporters Monday night.

Republicans complained that Democrats obstructed GOP tax credit measures along with bills that would have increased logging in state forests and drawn more water from the Columbia River.

"I can't find anything we haven't been successful on in our agenda," said Rep. Tina Kotek of Portland, the Democratic leader, as she thumbed through a list of Democratic priorities like foreclosure legislation and construction projects.

All 60 House seats and 16 of the 30 Senate seats are on the ballot this year. Democrats have a slim 16-14 majority in the Senate, but few of the most competitive seats are on the ballot.

Tim Knopp, a former House majority leader, announced he will challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Chris Telfer, of Bend, in the GOP primary. Two other Republicans, Sen. Doug Whitsett, of Klamath Falls, and Rep. Bob Jenson, of Pendleton, also face primary challenges.

Rep. Mike Schaufler, of Happy Valley, is the only incumbent Democrat to draw an opponent in the primary. Schaufler angered fellow Democrats this year when he sided with the GOP on a health care bill.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.