Who are Dennis Richardson, Brad Avakian? Oregonians struggle to answer

Many don't know the Secretary of State candidates

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Oregon Republicans appear to have their best chance at winning the Secretary of State’s Office in 30 years.

Republican Normal Paulus last held the post from 1977-85. Since then, a parade of Democrats have been Secretary of State.

In a recent poll done for KGW & The Oregonian/OregonLive, 34 percent of voters said they will vote for the Republican Dennis Richardson. Thirty-three percent said they would vote for Democrat Brad Avakian and 26 percent said they are undecided. The poll has a margin of error slightly under 4 percent.

More: Avakian, Richardson locked in close race, new state poll finds

The campaigns are almost over but on the streets of Portland, we found few who recognized either candidate’s name.

I stood downtown with their names written across two pads of paper.

“Sir, do you recognize these folks?” I asked people walking by Directors Square in downtown Portland.

Two bystanders said no, shook their heads and walked past.

Oregon’s Secretary of State oversees elections and audits state agencies. The person holding the office is next in line if something happens to the governor.

Democrat Kate Brown held that office when Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned early in his third term. She is now Gov. Brown.

So, you would think with such an important post, the candidates would have done everything possible to introduce themselves to voters.

“So we're asking voters do you know who these folks are?” I asked a woman on the sidewalk.

“No,” she said. “No idea?” I responded. “I haven’t read my pamphlet yet,” she said.

Oregon votes by mail and ballots began arriving along with voters’ pamphlets this week.

It may be that name recognition is not so important since voters will be able to read which party the candidate represents.

But still, it’s surprising how many people do not know the names of the candidates running for one of Oregon’s highest elected offices.

“We’re just checking to see if folks know who these folks are,” I asked another man walking down the sidewalk.

“Never seen them. Nope. Never heard of them,” he said.


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