Tigard resident selected as new ORP chairman

Boring resident and Clackamas County Republican Party chairman John Lee was edged out by Tigard resident Suzanne Gallagher in his bid to become chairman of the Oregon Republican Party.

Gallagher was selected by delegates from all over the state during a Saturday, Feb. 2, organizational meeting at the Red Lion Inn in Salem.

Deep divisions among the party’s factions were apparent throughout the meeting. It was a stark contrast to two years ago, when delegates unanimously selected Lake Oswego businessman and former state gubernatorial and treasurer candidate Allen Alley to head up the state's Republican Party.

Alley announced last year that he would not seek another term as chairman. That decision came after Oregon Republicans lost four state House seats and failed to unseat Democratic incumbents in the secretary of state, treasurer’s and labor commissioner offices.

In his final chairman’s report, Alley said the state's Republican Party provided $60,000 in funding to candidates in the 2012 campaign. He said that Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney performed better in all 36 Oregon counties last November than U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., did in his 2008 bid.

Alley said Oregon Republicans beat their Democratic counterparts by 2 percent in turning out their voters, but added that the next state party chair must focus on increasing registration.

There are now fewer registered Democrats in all of Oregon’s counties than there were in 2008, Alley said. Democrats are down 53,000 registered voters, he added, and Republicans are down 6,000. Non-affiliated and other party voters are up 120,000.

Despite stepping down as party chairman, Alley told delegates that he is “not going away” and is assembling a technology committee for the Republican National Committee.

The voting process for replacing Alley as chairman was filled with frequent interruptions from delegates and feedback from the public address system. Alley repeatedly pleaded for order, banging his gavel throughout the process.

In the first round of voting, Gallagher and Lee placed first and second. Josephine County resident and former two-time congressional candidate Art Robinson placed third, and was eliminated under the voting rules.

Gallagher beat Lee in the second round of voting. Delegates then elected a slate of candidates supported by Gallagher to fill the ORP’s other officer positions.

Tim Smith, who had served as vice-chair under Alley, was eliminated in the first round of voting in his attempt to return to that position.

That set the stage for a runoff between Adair Village Mayor Bill Currier and James Buchal, who had run for attorney general in the 2012 general election.

Currier was selected as vice-chair. Cove resident Chris Baretto was elected secretary and Prineville resident Ken Taylor will serve as treasurer.

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