Oregon Attorney General: Ellen Rosenblum (Democrat)
When Republican Daniel Crowe and Democrat Ellen Rosenblum met with the Portland Tribune Editorial Board to discuss the Oregon attorney general's race, a possibly over-caffeinated Crowe immediately launched into a five-minute rant about things that have gone wrong in Oregon government, including the $300 million wasted on a Cover Oregon website that never worked and $200 million squandered on a Columbia River Crossing that was never built.
Why, Crowe asked, had the incumbent Rosenblum not paid more attention to these contracts and prevented this waste of taxpayer money? There was only one problem with Crowe's critique, which Rosenblum quickly pointed out: She wasn't attorney general at the time those contracts were written.
And that exchange pretty much summarizes the choice Oregon voters have in this election. Crowe, who lives in Mount Angel, has an admirable go-get 'em attitude, but lacks the experience to move so quickly into the attorney general's office.
Crowe has a distinguished record of service. He attended West Point, served as a combat arms officer, ranger and paratrooper, and then was a U.S. Army judge advocate for 13 years. Crowe, who has a bachelor's degree in philosophy, a law degree and an MBA, embraces the moderate wing of the Republican Party, and he certainly has no problem speaking his mind.
We would like to see more of Crowe in the future, but his chances would be bolstered if he gains some direct experience in Oregon's public affairs.
For her part, Rosenblum has been a competent and accessible attorney general since winning election to the office in 2012, following a very brief stint as appointed attorney general. She says that protecting and advocating for vulnerable people in Oregon has been her top priority. To that end, she is focusing on such things as mortgage mediation, child-protection services, preventing elder abuse and finding ways to modify education-related debt.
One legitimate criticism of Rosenblum's tenure involves the Cover Oregon lawsuit and the recent settlement with software giant Oracle — a settlement that provided political cover for Gov. Kate Brown but not many benefits to the state. However, the lawsuit all along was driven by the governor's office — first by John Kitzhaber and then Brown. Rosenblum was acting as the state's top lawyer in the case, but the governor was the client who made the calls.
That issue aside, Rosenblum, a Portland resident, has the type of background voters would expect in an attorney general. She has served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the district of Oregon and as a nonpartisan judge for Multnomah County Circuit Court and the Oregon Court of Appeals. That experience grounded her not only in Oregon law, but also in the larger arena of Oregon public policy. Of particular interest to media groups and others who push for transparent government, Rosenblum is actively working to reform the state's open records laws, which have become saddled with too many exemptions over the years.
Voters should give Rosenblum more time to finish that job and others by re-electing her as attorney general.