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Oregon Governor: Bud Pierce (Republican)


DR. BUD PIERCEThe past 20 months as an unelected governor have given Kate Brown a chance to try out for the permanent job. Unfortunately, she has failed during that time to demonstrate the leadership qualities that Oregon must have if it is to overcome many of the perplexing issues it faces.

Perhaps Brown, a Democrat and attorney by training, would be a stronger governor and more assertive leader if she wins the Nov. 8 election and is allowed to fill out the remaining two years of former Gov. John Kitzhaber’s fourth term. For now, though, Oregon voters must evaluate her potential future performance against her record since taking office following Kitzhaber’s resignation in February 2015.

Brown, who was secretary of state before succeeding Kitzhaber, should be commended for bringing a sense of stability to state government following the turmoil of the Kitzhaber/Cylvia Hayes scandal. She has an unquestioned commitment to bettering the lives of Oregon’s most vulnerable residents.

However, after moving into Mahonia Hall, Brown has been cautious to a fault and has given most observers (including many of her supporters) the impression she simply was running out the clock on the November election.

That election has now arrived, and Brown’s main opponent is a doctor who fits nicely into the tradition of moderate Republicanism in Oregon. Bud Pierce cites former Gov. Tom McCall and former U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield among his role models. We would add that his views, including his stances on social as well as economic issues, would be in line with other mainstream GOP gubernatorial candidates of the past, including Dave Frohnmayer and Norma Paulus.

It is refreshing to see a Republican who aims to lead the state party in a centrist direction, and voters should encourage that trend by casting their ballots for Pierce.

The doctor has had some missteps in this campaign, including a much-reported statement at the Portland City Club that women who have education and good jobs aren’t susceptible to domestic violence. However, in contrast to the Republican who is on the nation’s presidential ticket, Pierce has owned his mistake, apologized for it and learned a valuable lesson — a skill all-too-rare in political life.

On other issues, the Salem oncologist has displayed an impressive understanding of state government. We have talked with him during three editorial board meetings and observed him in multiple forums and debates, and he has been consistent in his positions about state spending, economic development, education, transportation and health care. The latter topic is, of course, Pierce’s strong suit. He runs one of the last physician-owned oncology practices in the Northwest, and served as president of the Oregon Medical Association.

Health care will be one of the two or three major issues for Oregon going forward, and Pierce is well-equipped to address it. His views on matters such as job growth, public safety and investing in roads and other forms of transportation are well within the mainstream of Oregon’s values. Yet, Pierce, who has a hands-on business background, vows to bring a fiscal discipline to state government that’s unlikely to get the same emphasis under a continued Brown administration.

Brown’s answer to Oregon’s financial problems, which are made worse by the ballooning unfunded liability for the Public Employees Retirement System, has been to pin the state’s future on Ballot Measure 97, the misleading corporate sales tax. The governor should have used the power of her office to avert this expensive, divisive fight. Instead, she delayed taking a position for months, then jumped on board the Measure 97 campaign. Since then, she has declined to give direct answers to questions about how the tax would affect Oregon’s working families and businesses large and small. She’s conceded that the measure, if passed, would need significant changes but will not say what her staff is considering or how those changes would affect the projected revenues.

Regardless of who is elected governor, Democrats almost certainly will continue to control the Oregon Legislature come January 2017. Having a pragmatic Republican in the governor’s office — someone who actually has worked with and supported many Democrats in the past — would allow for a balance of power that Oregon currently lacks.

We recommend a vote for Bud Pierce.

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