- Associated Press - Friday, July 11, 2014

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Nobody seems to know whether Ted Wheeler can seek another term as Oregon’s treasurer.

Rep. Greg Walden’s Democratic rival is embracing her role with Cover Oregon.

And U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley posted a strong fundraising haul during the second quarter.

Here’s a look at some of the week’s most interesting developments in Oregon politics:


Secretary of State Kate Brown is asking the attorney general’s office whether Ted Wheeler can run for another term in 2016 if he decides he’s interested.

It’s unclear how Oregon term limits might apply to Wheeler, who is apparently in an unprecedented situation in state politics.

Wheeler was appointed to his job in 2010 when Ben Westlund died in office about halfway into his four-year term. Lawyers have previously determined that time spent finishing a predecessor’s term doesn’t count toward term limits.

But the secretary of state’s office doesn’t believe Wheeler’s circumstances have come up before. Without the death of Westlund, the treasurer position wouldn’t have appeared on the ballot until 2012. But because Wheeler was appointed before the 2010 election, Oregon law required that he stand for election that year. He won then and was re-elected in 2012.

That raises a constitutional question: Between the elections of 2010 and 2012, was Wheeler finishing Westlund’s term? Or was he serving his own?

Tony Green, a spokesman for Brown, said the inquiry was prompted by a question from the Statesman Journal of Salem, not by any communication with Wheeler or his staff.

The whole exercise could turn out to be nothing more than fodder for political geeks. Michael Cox, a spokesman for Wheeler, said the treasurer is not yet thinking about his next election.

The Democrat is often mentioned as a potential 2018 candidate for governor.


The Democratic candidate for the U.S. House in Oregon’s only Republican district isn’t running from her connection to Cover Oregon, the troubled health insurance exchange.

Aelea Christofferson was on the board for Cover Oregon until she stepped down to run against Republican Rep. Greg Walden, a vocal critic of the exchange.

Her campaign released a 30-second YouTube ad on Friday highlighting Walden’s vote with other House Republicans to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law.

“While I worked to get health care coverage for 300,000 Oregonians, he voted more than a dozen times to deny health coverage to people with pre-existing conditions,” Christofferson says in the video (https://bit.ly/U72uh9).

Walden spokesman Andrew Malcolm points out that Christofferson doesn’t mention Cover Oregon by name in the ad.

“She needs to explain to Oregonians how, on her watch, Cover Oregon wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on a failed website,” Malcolm said.


The campaign of U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley said it will report raising $1.8 million during the second quarter. And a summary of Merkley’s finances shows he had $3.5 million in the bank with no debt at the end of June.

Merkley, a Democrat, is favored against Republican Monica Wehby in the strongly Democratic state. Still, he has waged an aggressive fight for a second term.

Wehby’s second-quarter fundraising totals have not yet been made public. She has focused heavily on raising money, and a strong showing in November would help her show Republicans in Oregon and Washington, D.C., that she can make a race competitive.

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