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Westlund and the Republicans

Ben Westlund

Ben Westlund

When Oregon state Senator Ben Westlund completed his journey from Republican (which he was when last elected to the legislature, in 2004) to Independent and then to Democrat, Senate Republican leader Ted Ferrioli had a witty riposte: “I can only wish him all the best success and hope that he is able to do for the Democrats what he has done for Republicans.”

Wrapped inside that was the recognition that Westlund had turned on his own, and the followup implication that this would not go without response, of the serious campaign kind. Of all the Democrats running for major office in Oregon this year, Westlund should logically be the target of the fiercest Republican opposition.

Yet Westlund, who formally filed for state treasurer last November 9, and publicly announced his candidacy more than a month before that, still hasn’t drawn a filed Republican opponent. He still may, of course, and probably will, since the candidate filing deadline is yet a week off. But the absence of Republican response so far is striking.

And so was this: A substantial batch of Republicans who have endorsed him.

When you see a “Republicans for” or a “Democrats for” list of cross-party endorsees, they’re usually lower-level and no longer active, and often philosophically close to the other party anyway. This list is a little different. It actually includes incumbent Republican office holders: Senator Gary George (Newberg) and Representatives Patti Smith (Corbett), Bill Garrard (Klamath) and Bob Jenson (Pendleton). (George is especially striking; by about any measure he’s among the most conservative of senators.) And there are recent former former Representatives Alan Brown (Newport), Rob Patridge (Medford) and Lane Shetterly (Dallas) and former Senator Len Hannon (Ashland). Three other figures move a little further into the past, but are major names: former Secretary of State Norma Paulus and two former House Speakers, Lynn Lundquist and Mark Simmons.

So far, the Democrats don’t have a lot of cause for dissatisfaction.

OPPOSITION? At his blog, the Oregonian‘s Jeff Mapes is reporting that Allen Alley, a Republican who has been deputy chief of staff to Governor Ted Kulongoski (who has endorsed Westlund), may enter the race for treasurer. No final word on that yet, though.

Alley would have substantial self-funds from his business (he was a founder of Pixelworks) but he has never run for office.

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