Richardson makes gubernatorial pitch during Hermiston visit

<p>Representative Dennis Richardson outlines his plan if he is elected governor to about 15 people at the Desert Lanes Bowling Alley on Tuesday.</p>

While voters in Oregon wait to hear whether Governor John Kitzhaber will run for an unprecedented fourth term, 2014 gubernatorial hopeful Dennis Richardson isn’t waiting to get his message out to the public.

Richardson, who is currently a Republican state representative, made a campaign stop in Hermiston Tuesday to outline his plan to voters for breaking the vice grip Democrats have had on the governor’s office since 1987. Richardson announced his candidacy in July and was hoping to convince residents of Hermiston to nominate him as the Republican candidate for governor in the primary election, May 20.

“I understand the need for a plan,” Richardson said. “Ten years ago when I came to the Legislature I assumed there was a strategic plan for the great state of Oregon. I was surprised to find there was no plan. The governor talks about a 10-year plan. It’s political theater. It’s not working for our state.”

After presenting briefly at the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce Business to Business luncheon earlier in the day, Richardson spoke to about 15 people at the Desert Lanes Bowling Alley for about an hour before fielding questions from the audience. Richardson repeatedly criticized the governor and other Democratic leaders for what he calls their lack of long-term planning and leadership.

“What do we have because of a state without a plan?” he said. “In the last three years we have over 100,000 additional Oregonians on food stamps. One in five Oregonians are receiving checks from the government in one form or another. It’s all about becoming dependent on the government. I’m all for helping those that are in need. But this idea of having more and more dependence on government makes us subjects. It’s not sustainable, and it’s not in our best interests.”

Running on a platform that includes education reform, job creation, rebuilding the state economy and lowering the tax burden on businesses and individuals, Richardson said the current administration in Salem under Gov. Kitzhaber had their chance.

“In baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out,” Richardson said. “The governor had three terms to do what the state needed to be done.”

In response to a question from an audience member, Richardson said his highest priority if elected governor would be the creation of jobs. Richardson said job creation would not only solve the unemployment problem in the state but a multitude of other issues as well.

“If people are working, it solves so many other problems,” Richardson said. “It lessens crime. It lessens family abuse, the need for foster care. It lessens drug and alcohol addiction. If people are productive and working and feel like they are making progress, that will be my highest priority.”

When asked specifically what he would do as governor to create jobs and bolster the economy, Richardson responded by saying his plan would start by consulting business leaders.

“The first thing I will do is to gather a group of very successful people who are not involved with the government and ask them first ‘what is the purpose of state government?’” Richardson said. “We need to know why we exist before we keep funding it. Then I would ask ‘where do we want to be in five years, in 10 years, in 20 years” — long-term goals for our state. Then we evaluate their programs to determine whether they are moving us toward those goals. We need to determine whether the problems Oregon faces are being solved.”

Richardson’s visit was hosted by the Greater Hermiston Republican Women’s Club and the Greater Hermiston Area Tea Party. Cherie Robins of the women’s club said Richardson was her choice for governor because of his ability to bridge the ever-widening gap between political parties and because of his working knowledge of state government.

“He understands how government works,” Robins said. “He is willing to put aside party politics and is able to look at an issue from both angles and decide whether it will benefit our state. We need to have a governor that is able to look at both sides of an issue.”

Chairman of the Greater Hermiston Area Tea Party Rob Lovett said he favored Richardson because of his traditional conservative perspective toward government.

“Dennis stands for a more conservative Oregon,” Lovett said. “He has principles that are more conservative. I believe Oregon badly needs these principles. We cannot have a government that keeps growing and expanding. They will gain more power and pass more laws. Every time they do that they are taking freedom away from the people.”

The 2014 Oregon gubernatorial election will take place Nov. 4, 2014. Incumbent Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber is eligible for re-election but has not announced his intention to do so.

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