Dennis Richardson is too extreme for Oregon

Tom Chamberlain-2015By Tom Chamberlain, Oregon AFL-CIO president

What would you think about a candidate who was front and center at last summer’s Freedom Foundation fundraiser at the Oregon Zoo? Or stated he would implement Scott Walker’s anti-union “reforms” in Oregon if he “had the power?” Criticized raising the minimum wage? Opposed extending health coverage to people with pre-existing conditions?  Voted against prevailing wage, and opposed efforts to stop wage theft?

But wait. There’s more.

This candidate stated that Oregon should send undocumented immigrants to private prisons in China, and he tried to amend legislation to prevent undocumented children from being covered by state health care programs.

These are all statements and positions advocated by Dennis Richardson, who is currently seeking the office of Oregon’s Secretary of State. Mr. Richardson is too extreme for Oregon.  His extremist views shaped his legislative record while he served in the Oregon Legislature. Time and time again, Mr. Richardson has championed legislation limiting the rights of women to make decisions concerning the right to choose. In 2007, he railed against domestic partnerships for same-sex couples and stood in opposition to legislation that prohibited businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation.  He has compared homosexuality to smoking and drinking, saying all are based on someone’s behavior.

After a mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, Mr. Richardson stated that if he had been a teacher at the school and allowed to carry a gun, “most of the murdered children would still be alive and the gunman would still be dead, and not by suicide.”

Needless to say, Mr. Richardson has been an outspoken opponent of a working people’s agenda, including the prevailing wage, increasing the minimum wage, the right of workers to join a union, and access to health care.   

While almost anyone would be a better choice for Oregon Secretary of State than Dennis Richardson, we are fortunate to have a candidate in Brad Avakian, who has been a champion of Oregon’s workers for decades.  While in the Oregon Legislature, Brad was a leader who not only voted for Oregon AFL-CIO priority legislation, but actively worked within the Legislature to get it passed. Brad has proven to be a defender of the environment by sponsoring the Oregon Renewable Energy Act, and a leader in the advancement of human rights by co-sponsoring the Oregon Equality Act.

As Oregon’s Labor Commissioner, Brad has not tap-danced around controversial issues, but has shown the courage and leadership to do the right thing.  He is a defender of rights for all Oregonians, fighting for janitorial workers who were denied their full wages, transgender patrons who faced discrimination in a North Portland bar, and a Christian in Bend who experienced religious discrimination in the workplace.

My favorite example of Brad’s courage and leadership is in the fight against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, when many elected leaders were either supportive of the agreement or silent. Brad stood with U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley and Congressman Peter DeFazio in rock-solid opposition to the TPP.  Brad spoke at town halls and at rallies against a corporate agenda that has cost Oregon thousands of manufacturing jobs.

The choice for Oregon Secretary of State could not be more clear. Brad Avakian, through a decades-long career in public service, has stood for Oregon. My vote is for Brad.

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