A sense of whiplash today, so soon after the sad and shocking news of Oregon Treasurer Ben Westlund's death yesterday: An immediate, hard, fast for a job no one had expected to be on the ballot this year: Oregon state treasurer.
There are two races right now, in fact: One for appointment to the position, which could happen very quickly, and the other for election to the (partisan) job. That second will play out from here to November, of course, but the participants will have very little time to decide whether to enter. While candidate filing has been open since last September in Oregon, it ends tomorrow. The space of about 48 hours, the office will have come open for election, and the field of candidates for it will be closed. A weird state of events. And the key participants will mostly be people who counted Westlund as a good friend, and really would rather not be contemplating all this just now.
There is also this to consider: When Governor Ted Kulongoski appoints a new treasurer, that person is likely to be given an inside track on election to the job. If, that is, that person is a candidate. No immediate word on a choice from the governor's office, but the timing puts unusual pressure on his decisionmaking, since running for the office as an incumbent could be a huge advantage.
The first in was state Senator Rick Metsger, D-Welches, who ran for secretary of state in 2008 and is leaving his Senate seat this year (that is, not running for re-election to it). A strong, appealing candidate who came across pretty well in the sec-state race, said he's running for the office whether appointed to it or not.
At Blue Oregon, Carla Axtman spins out several other prospects too, including Greg Macpherson, the former state representative from Lake Oswego, Senate Majority Leader Richard Devlin, activist (and 2008 Senate candidate) Steve Novick, and Multnomah County Commission Chair Ted Wheeler. Any could be solid candidates for the job. Macpherson and Novick have experience running statewide.
But that doesn't necessarily exhaust the field. We picked up talk this afternoon about another prospect as well, a highly-regarded officeholder, said to have a strong shot at the governor's appointment. Of course, many such rumors could be circulating at this point.
MIA so far: Serious prospects for treasurer on the Republican side. But there's no doubt some scrambling to get that ballot line, for an open office, filled quickly.
All of it is happening quickly. Feels as if, too quickly.