Oregon Democrats have chosen former state judge Ellen Rosenblum as their nominee for Attorney General. She defeated form federal prosecutor Dwight Holton in Tuesday's primary election by a wide margin. But it's still not clear if Rosenblum will face any opposition in the general election this fall. As correspondent Chris Lehman reports, marijuana became a key issue in the race.
Sixteen people have served as Oregon Attorney General. All of them, men. Ellen Rosenblum is poised to become the first woman to hold the office. But in her election night victory speech—the kind where candidates run through long lists of "thank you's"—Rosenblum got a little ahead of herself.
"And then there are the great Oregon leaders who jumped in and helped elect Oregon's first woman Attorney General," she told the crowd.
When the cheers died down Rosenblum qualified her earlier remark.
"You know there is still a general election. Come November, I hope to be the first woman in Oregon to hold the office after the general election," Rosenblum said.
Rosenblum has two reasons to be confident. First, there were no Republicans on the primary ballot. The GOP did launch a last-minute campaign to convince its members to write in a candidate. Results of that effort won't be known for a few weeks. Second, current Oregon Attorney General John Kroger is stepping down this summer to take a job as president of Reed College in Portland. That means Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber could appoint Rosenblum to fill the remainder of Kroger's term.
The Attorney General's race took another unexpected twist this year when medical marijuana groups poured money into Rosenblum's campaign. Holton's campaign accused the former state judge of cutting a deal to look the other way on enforcing marijuana laws if she won. But marijuana legalization activist Bob Wolfe says no such thing ever happened.
"We fought this fair and square. Mr. Holton lost on the issues to his base, to Democrats. He should have run as a Democrat instead of as a Republican on this issue," Wolfe said.
At his election night party, Holton—a former federal prosecutor—downplayed the marijuana issue.
"I'm not sure as a matter of politics it actually had much to do with the race. I'll let others guess on that pundit-wise. I spent my time talking about my vision for what I think the Department of Justice ought to do," Holton said.
Whatever the reason, in the end Oregon Democrats rallied around Ellen Rosenblum by a considerable margin.
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network