Primary Conversations: Attorney General

OPB | April 23, 2008 midnight | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:41 p.m.

Who should be Oregon’s next attorney general?

Hardy Myers, Oregon’s attorney general, is stepping down this year after twelve years as the top law enforcement agent in the state. No Republicans have thrown their hat in the ring for the job, so Myers’ replacement will bascially be chosen on May 20th… in the Democratic Primary.

Both candidates are Ivy League-educated and, obviously, Democrats. But that’s where the similarities end. One is a veteran trial lawyer who moved to Oregon from New York City in 2002 after an extended bike ride across the country. The other is a native Oregonian who grew up on a farm in Linn County and has spent the last 33 years as an employee benefits attorney at one of Portland’s most prestigious law firms.

The trial lawyer — and former federal prosecutor — is John Kroger. He’s an ex-Marine from Ohio who has been in court 1,000 times. He has convicted high-level drug traffickers and mafia killers and worked as an economic and domestic policy advisor to President Bill Clinton. Six years ago he began teaching law at Lewis & Clark Law School. The Sierra Club and the Services Employees International Union have endorsed him.

He says that if elected his priorities will include: fighting methamphetamine aggressively; holding every polluter responsible for the damage they cause; ensuring that every single parent in the state gets the child support to which they are entitled; protecting consumers and retirees from scam-artists and crooked companies; and defending civil rights, a woman’s right to choose, and the rights of Oregon crime victims.

The business lawyer — and three-term State Representative from District 38 — is Greg Macpherson. A native Oregonian, he grew up on a dairy farm in the Willamette Valley. For over 30 years he has practiced law at Stoel Rives, working on issues including gay rights, protection for farmland and undeveloped areas, treatment of criminals, and payday loan caps.

Macpherson is endorsed by the current Attorney General Hardy Myers and Governor Ted Kulongoski.

Macpherson says that if elected he’ll focus on reducing crime without building new prisons, protecting Oregonians from scams and predatory lending, enforcing worker protection laws, standing up for the civil rights of Oregonians, and protecting Oregon’s environmental legacy.

These two attorneys have such different backgrounds that at a debate recently Kroger offered Macpherson a job as his chief deputy to manage the office. Macpherson returned with an offer for Kroger to be his chief trial lawyer.

What kind of person do you want as the state’s top enforcer? An insider or an outsider? A corporate attorney or a trial lawyer? A politician or a professor? What qualities do you think make for a good attorney general? And, once elected, what issues do you want this person to take on?

GUESTS:

John Kroger: Criminal prosecutor and law professor at Lewis & Clark Law School

Greg Macpherson: State Representative and an employee benefits attorney at Stoel Rives

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