Oregon State Senator Ben Westlund has undergone many status transformations during the past year. It wasn’t until February 14, 2006–which he’s quick to remind you is Oregon’s birthday–that he threw in his GOP registration to ‘declare his independence’ as a non-affiliated voter. Now, after withdrawing from a gubernatorial bid, a switch to the Democratic Party, and passage of his landmark health care reform bill (SB 329), he’s considering another transition.
No, he won’t be the fifth Democratic Senator to express interest or announce for the Secretary of State post. He’s looking at the State Treasurer job, if he hasn’t decided to go for it already. But there’s one little thing holding him back: campaign debt.
But before I can launch another campaign, for my Senate seat or State Treasurer, I must wrap up the last one and reduce the debt left when I withdrew from the Governor’s race so as not to be a spoiler.
He’s going to need the money either way. Senate District 27, which comprises almost all of Deschutes County, is growing increasingly moderate due to the ever-growing city of Bend, but the Republican Party still has a strong presence in this area. The two House members incorporated under SD 27, Rep. Gene Whisnant and Rep. Chuck Burley, are both entrenched Republicans. Even though Burley and Whisnant are both likely seeking re-election to the House, Westlund would face a difficult race in a district that last time elected him as a Republican.
The State Treasurer job doesn’t look like a clear path to victory, either. Though the two other most commonly mentioned candidates for the job, Senators Ryan Deckert and Richard Devlin, have now settled into other positions, there is still a good deal of interest in the Treasurer job from the Democratic side. The current office-holder, Randall Edwards, faces the inevitable term-limit.
But before Westlund can be Westlund again, taking on another political transformation, he’s looking for some help. He can only hope that no one else officially enters before he does.