Republican candidates on tour
- Holly M. Gill
- Madras Pioneer - News
The Republican candidates for attorney general and treasurer, James Buchal and Tom Cox, both of Portland, are combining resources to tour the state.
Although there were no Republican candidates for the offices in the May primary election, the two won spots on the November ballot with write-in votes.
"The Republican party contacted us at the last minute and asked if we would be willing to serve," said Buchal, 52, who will face Democrat Ellen Rosenblum in the November election. Rosenblum was appointed to office at the end of June, when Oregon Attorney General John Kroger took the position of president of Reed College.
Cox, 47, will attempt to unseat Treasurer Ted Wheeler, a Democrat.
Buchal campaigns for AG
Three "simple themes" characterize Buchal's campaign: decentralization, simplification and accountability.
"I have the pessimistic view that the federal government is sort of dragging us off a cliff," said Buchal. "It's obvious to everyone that the federal government is crippling Oregon's prosperity in a number of ways and I would like to get Oregon in a position where it can defend its destiny as a state."
Using forest policy as an example, he said, "We have a bunch of rabid idealogues that have replaced forest management with nonmanagement. The forests are filling with fuel ... and beetles."
Addressing both the decentralization and simplification themes, Buchal said the government can't afford to have so many layers of bureaucracy.
"It's largely created by law," he said. "Unless you get people that really want to solve it, you just get more centralization and complexity."
On the federal level, Buchal pointed to the passage of the Health Care Bill as an example of overly complex legislation.
"The fools serving us in Congress get a 2,700-page bill and then pass it and say they'll read it later," he said. "There are 200,000 pages of regulations that go along with it; no one can obey it, no one can know it. Everything has to be turned over to lawyers and armies of bureaucrats, and everything grinds to a halt."
Concerning the issue of accountability, Buchal commented, "Here in Oregon, we no longer hold officials accountable for their mistakes."
Referring to a blunder in the Department of Motor Vehicles in which $88 million was spent for computerization, followed by the computers being mothballed with "nothing to show for it," Buchal said no one was held accountable.
"There are two possibilities," he said. "One possibility is they're staggeringly incompetent, and the other is something venal. We need people willing to investigate this same crowd."
Buchal considers the U.S. Constitution a sacred document that should not be altered "piece by piece because of a passing fad."
"When they rip these things up, there are very severe consequences on the country," he said.
Buchal, who grew up in Downers Grove, Ill., earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics in 1981 from Harvard University, and a juris doctorate degree and a Master of Business Administration degree from Yale Law School in 1985.
After graduation, he practiced law in New York City until 1991, when he moved to Portland. A partner in the law firm Murphy and Buchal, he has run for state office twice before -- in 2004 and 2006, when he ran for state representative.
He has two grown children.
Cox raises issues
An Oregon resident for the past 20 years, Cox is also no stranger to campaigning for state office. In 1992, he ran for governor as a Libertarian.
In this election season, he wants to ensure that voters are informed. "The important thing is that the key issues we've raised have not been addressed by the incumbents or their party," he said.
"PERS (Public Employees Retirement System) is in desperate need of reform," said Cox, who would like to transform the system into a defined contribution system, rather than a defined benefit system "because that would put it on a solid financial footing, and we would never, ever have another shortfall."
As it stands, he said, "It ceases being a program helping people retire and becomes a program helping enrich the connected and the powerful."
According to Cox, the state's $58 billion PERS fund is underfunded by about 27 percent, which could put taxpayers on the hook for $1.5 billion to $4 billion per year.
"Sadly, it hurts the majority of retirees who are not rich and never will be, and it hurts taxpayers," said Cox, who considers it a "fantasy" that PERS should expect to earn 8 percent each year. "Everyone agrees that something needs to be done, but we're only now finding the courage to act."
Since the treasurer, along with the governor and the secretary of state, sits on the State Land Board which oversees the management of state lands, Cox would like to make changes to that management.
"They're supposed to produce income that goes to the Common School Fund," he said. "I believe that we could return the state lands to productive, sustainable economic use and create jobs."
Cox believes that the treasurer doesn't need to be a certified public accountant, but must be capable of putting together an effective team "and make sure they perform."
"The Treasurer's Office doesn't manage the money; they hire financial managers who oversee portfolios," he said, adding, "There are accounts that need to be audited that haven't been."
Born in Chicago, Cox grew up in Kentucky, and then attended the University of Chicago, where he earned a bachelor's degree in behavioral science.
Cox worked for Oracle, Price Waterhouse Coopers, and IBM, coaching chief executive officers and business owners on how to become better leaders.
"I train people on how to transform destructive conflict into constructive conflict," said Cox, who owns Cox Business Consulting Inc.
In 1992, he moved to Oregon, "after a visit in which I fell in love with the state of Oregon."
Cox has two daughters, ages 17 and 18.