- Associated Press - Friday, January 29, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - State Rep. Val Hoyle, the Eugene Democrat who is running for Oregon secretary of state, has requested that her Democratic rivals in the race - Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and state Sen. Richard Devlin of Tualatin - agree to stop fundraising during the upcoming February legislative session.

Under House rules for state representatives, Hoyle is already barred from fundraising during that time period.

But Devlin, under different rules for state senators, can technically raise money during the session, although senators have rarely done so in recent years. Avakian, who as labor commissioner doesn’t have any formal role in the Legislature, isn’t bound by any fundraising limitation during the session.

Hoyle framed her request as an attempt to keep all three candidates focused on policy work, not on raising money, during the 35-day period. She added that the secretary of state position, which oversees state campaign finance rules among other duties, has “the opportunity to serve as our state’s moral compass.”

“As I travel Oregon talking with voters, one of their major concerns is the influence of money in politics and what I’ll do about that as the next secretary of state,” Hoyle wrote to Devlin and Avakian. “I’m sure you’re hearing the same concerns and I know each of you, like me, want laws to make our government more transparent and accountable to Oregonians.”

But Avakian refused Hoyle’s request, saying, through a spokesman, that he would “continue to run a vigorous campaign.”

“Commissioner Avakian has built a strong, grassroots campaign that will take our progressive message to every corner of the state,” campaign spokesman Brad Pyle said Thursday. “That is what we have done and will continue to do.”

Devlin’s campaign declined to comment.

The secretary of state contest is widely viewed as the most competitive statewide race in Oregon this year, and the Democratic primary in particular is a heated race. Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken and former state Rep. Dennis Richardson of Central Point are facing off in the Republican primary.

Hoyle currently has the lead in fundraising over the other Democrats, having brought in almost $300,000 in the cycle so far. She currently has around $100,000 in her campaign fund. Avakian has raised $245,000 and has around $227,500 in the bank. Devlin has raised $145,000, but he currently has the largest war chest with $305,000.

So far this year, Hoyle’s $30,000 in receipts far outpaces fundraising by Avakian and Devlin.

Also Thursday, Avakian secured the endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice, the pro-choice advocacy group. In a press release, the group said that, while all three candidates are “firmly pro-choice,” it is committed to backing “pro-choice champions.”

“Brad Avakian is the pro-choice champion Oregon deserves,” the group said. “He has a long history of supporting choice in Oregon and will continue to be an advocate for women everywhere.”

All three candidates are fiercely vying for the endorsements of Oregon’s powerful public employee labor unions. But, so far, none of the largest unions have publicly backed any of the candidates over the others.


Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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