- Associated Press - Thursday, October 29, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Former Republican state Rep. Dennis Richardson announced Thursday that he will run for Oregon secretary of state in an attempt at a political comeback a year after he lost his bid for governor.

Richardson, a Central Point resident, touted his experience as co-chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and says his skills are the right match for the job.

Richardson’s social conservative views weighed down his bid for governor. Democrats and their allied interest groups confronted him relentlessly with his own controversial statements. Despite aggressive attacks on an ethics scandal surrounding then-Gov. John Kitzhaber, he lost to the Democratic incumbent 50-44. Kitzhaber resigned three months later.

In a statement announcing his decision, he addressed the issue directly, noting the much more limited focus of the secretary of state’s office.

“In this position, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a social conservative or social liberal,” Richardson said.

The secretary of state is in charge of registering corporations, applying election laws, auditing government agencies and maintaining the state archives. It’s also the second-highest elected office in Oregon, and the secretary is first in line to be governor if the chief executive dies or steps down.

That’s what happened when Kate Brown took over in February following the resignation Kitzhaber’s resignation.

Richardson is a father of nine, a lawyer and a former Army helicopter pilot who served in Vietnam.

As secretary of state, Richardson said he’d focus on making the government more ethical and transparent. He said the state hasn’t done enough to restore trust in government after the scandal that led Kitzhaber to resign.

Richardson is the highest-profile Republican to announce a run for secretary of state. He’ll face Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken in the GOP primary.

Three Democrats are also vying for the job - Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, state Rep. Val Hoyle and state Sen. Richard Devlin.

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