New state GOP chair plans to add 200,000 new members

New state GOP chair plans to add 200,000 new members »Play Video
Oregon's new Republican Party chair, Suzanne Gallagher, appears on KATU's "Your Voice, Your Vote" Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013.

PORTLAND, Ore. – The new chair of the Oregon Republican Party said Sunday her top priority is to register more members, specifically 200,000.

There didn't appear to be any doubt in Suzanne Gallagher's voice when she told KATU's Steve Dunn on "Your Voice, Your Vote," that "We will be registering about 200,000 Republicans."

It's an ambitious goal and it also happens to be the number that would outstrip the Democrats' current registration advantage of about 190,000 more members than the GOP statewide.

Gallagher, who has been on the job for barely a week, didn't give a timeline of reaching that registration goal nor did she say specifically how she'd do it.

"We have a strategy, and we have some people who are going to help us," she said.

But one group she'll look to recruit from is women, saying she's the right person to connect with them.

"I'm the right one to do that now as the leader of the party to show them that there are lots of women who agree with these fiscally conservative ideas that we have," she said.

The 65-year-old business owner from Tigard, who also ran for a state Senate seat last year, has her work cut out for her. The Republican Party in Oregon hasn't won a statewide race in a decade and hasn't held the governor's office since the late 1980s, and four of the five state's congressional seats are held by Democrats. In the statehouse, the Democrats retook the House in the last election while holding onto their slim majority in the Senate.

The party's state central committee elected Gallagher Saturday, Feb. 2 for a two-year term to replace Allen Alley, who chose not to seek a second term. She beat John Lee Jr. and Art Robinson.

Gallagher's interview with Dunn follows a segment with state Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland.

KATU's political reporter, Patrick Preston, and Dunn pepper Greenlick with questions over some of his more interesting bills, including the repeal of the death penalty, making nicotine a controlled substance and also why he's supporting a bill to make it illegal to smoke in a car with children.

Click on the "Play Video" button above to watch the entire show.