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Bud Pierce, Dennis Richardson attempt to end GOP drought in Oregon elections

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Wednesday may 18, 2016 – Oregon Gov. Kate Brown replaced one doctor in February 2015, taking office after the resignation of then-Gov. John Kitzhaber. She’ll face another this fall in her first gubernatorial campaign, after┬áSalem oncologist Bud Pierce had a surprisingly easy time Tuesday securing the Republican nomination.

Pierce, who now has the daunting task of trying to end Democrats’ three-decade stranglehold on the state’s top office, had 47 percent of the votes in partial returns late Tuesday to second-place finisher Allen Alley’s 29 percent. Pierce used hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money in the primary fight, his first bid for elected office.

“What it’s really about is changing the nature of our government,” Pierce said in a speech at the Salem Grand Hotel and Convention Center, as supporters waved signs behind him. Oregon’s last Republican governor was Vic Atiyeh, who served from 1979 to 1987.

Dennis Richardson echoed similar themes Tuesday after winning the Republican nomination in the secretary of state’s race. In the fall, Richardson will face Democrat Brad Avakian.

“The message that I believe will resonate, the true message for the state, is we need to have checks and balances,” Richardson said.

Richardson, the Republicans’ 2014 gubernatorial nominee, handily beat Lane County commissioner Sid Leiken with more than 75 percent of the GOP vote. Avakian, the state’s labor commissioner, beat state Rep. Val Hoyle and state Sen. Richard Devlin in the Democratic primary.

Avakian said Tuesday he intends to be Oregon’s “chief auditor,” working to restore civics to the state.

“It’s the kind of thing that Oregonians clearly want,” he said.

The secretary of state presides over elections, manages state audits to guard against wasteful public spending and maintains the list of companies registered to do business in the state.

Brown appointed Oregon’s current secretary of state, Jeanne Atkins, in March 2015. Atkins, a longtime Democratic operative, said from the outset she intended to serve as a caretaker and wouldn’t seek election this year.

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