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Avakian, Richardson will battle for secretary of state post

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian will face Republican Dennis Richardson for the secretary of state's post in the November general election.Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian appears to have won the Democratic primary for Oregon secretary of state.

As of 10:15 p.m., Avakian had 39 percent of the vote leading state Rep. Val Hoyle, D-Eugene, who had 33 percent and state Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin, with 27 percent, according to unofficial vote totals. The Associated Press called the race for Avakian.

Former state Rep. Dennis Richardson appeared to be winning the Republican primary with nearly 77 percent, and was declared the winner by The Associated Press. Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken had 23 percent of the vote, according to unofficial totals.

Avakian and Richardson will face each other in the November general election.

Richardson said Tuesday night that he was ready to campaign against Avakian based on their different views on the role of the secretary of state.

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Former state Rep. Dennis Richardson won the GOP nomination to the secretary of state's post Tuesday evening.“Brad Avakian wants to investigate and go after private businesses,” Richardson said, referring to Avakian’s plan to have state auditors begin investigating complaints against state contractors. “My opinion is the secretary of state should be rolling out the red carpet to businesses in other states and countries, as well as in Oregon.”

Richardson said the Audits Division in the secretary of state’s office is supposed to review state programs in order to “show that the people’s money is well spent and (Avakian’s) approach will be to ignore the waste that is taking place in public departments and programs and go after private businesses.”

DEVLINAvakian, who fought to set himself apart as the most progressive politician in the Democratic primary, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night. In a press release statement, Avakian’s campaign manager Brad Pyle described Richardson as an “extreme right wing” politician.

The Democratic primary remained contentious up until the 8 p.m. Tuesday election deadline, as the candidates increasingly went on the attack in an attempt to gain a lead in the tight race. Early on, Hoyle and Devlin critiqued Avakian for promising to create renewable energy and civics education programs, which are outside the secretary of state’s role of chief elections officer, auditor and archivist.

HOYLERecently, Avakian and Devlin attacked Hoyle for accepting a $250,000 donation in April from billionaire gun control advocate Michael Bloomberg. Avakian’s campaign accused Devlin of accepting campaign donations from groups that benefited financially from legislation Devlin championed.

And a week before the primary, Hoyle also faced an attack ad by the Humane Society Legislative Fund that took her to task for killing a 2015 bill that would have banned sales of ivory and rhino tusks in Oregon.

Early this month, a poll commissioned by OPB and Fox 12 showed the three Democrats were in a dead heat. Avakian was expected to win 21 percent of the vote, Hoyle was second with 16 percent and Devlin had 13 percent, a margin of error of plus or minus 5.7 percent. Most of the remaining Democrats in the poll were undecided.