There are politicians who are in it for prestige, for power, who run for office to boost their sense of self-importance. And then there are politicians like Dennis Richardson.
Oregon’s secretary of state died Tuesday at his home in Central Point after a long battle with brain cancer.
We didn’t always agree with Richardson. He held staunchly conservative views on social issues. But we never doubted his dedication to making government work better.
He served six terms in the state House, rising to co-chairman of the budget-writing Joint Ways and Means Committee in 2011, when the House was split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. He handled that situation with his usual aplomb.
Richardson ran for governor in 2014, losing to Gov. John Kitzhaber. In 2016, he was elected secretary of state, the first Republican to win statewide office in 16 years.
His staff of auditors issued reports revealing wasteful spending on health care and mismanagement in the state foster care system, among other programs. Those were embarrassing to Democrats in charge, but long overdue.
He was an advocate for greater voter participation, rejected President Donald Trump’s claims of voter fraud and refused to turn over data on Oregon voters to the administration’s voter fraud commission. He also proposed a nonpartisan commission to draw legislative district boundaries.
Gov. Kate Brown says she will appoint a caretaker to fill the vacancy.
Oregonians will have to hope for a 2020 candidate who will approach the position with Richardson’s singular drive and dedication. That’s a tall order.