Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum Faces Just 1 Opponent: A Non-Lawyer

By Jeff Mapes (OPB)
March 18, 2020 7:15 p.m.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum's sole remaining challenger is Republican activist Michael Cross, who tried to recall Gov. Kate Brown and would be the first non-lawyer in that job since at least the earliest 20th century.

Republicans had trouble recruiting a candidate for the race. Daniel Crowe, a former military lawyer who ran against Rosenblum in 2016, filed a few hours before the March 10 deadline but dropped out a few days later.


Cross, who filed just seven minutes before the deadline, gained public attention last year for his recall campaign, which he dubbed, "Flush Down Kate Brown." But he warred at times with the state Republican Party, which launched its own competing recall campaign.

Michael Cross, leader of the "Flush Down Kate Brown" campaign, collects signatures for a recall petition on Aug. 7, 2019.

Michael Cross, leader of the "Flush Down Kate Brown" campaign, collects signatures for a recall petition on Aug. 7, 2019.

Dirk VanderHart / OPB

Neither was successful, and Cross was forced to address some prior criminal convictions on his record. He said in an interview that the most serious, a felony assault conviction, involved an overzealous prosecutor he had crossed politically.


Cross said that even though he fell short in the recall campaign, he was able to collect about 200,000 signatures and show his grassroots-organizing abilities. State election officials say Cross was clearly short of the 280,000 needed and turned in no more than 239,260 signatures, and potentially far fewer if not every signature line was filled on the petition sheets. Many signatures are also typically invalidated because they are duplicates or not from registered voters.

Cross said he wants to use the attorney general’s job to act as a check on Brown by doing such things as challenging her recent executive order implementing parts of the climate bill that failed in the Legislature.

“We basically need a guard dog for the people,” Cross said, “not a lapdog for Kate Brown.”

Rosenblum fired back in a statement that she does act as a check on some “of the most powerful entities in the world, include massive corporations that exploit or endanger Oregonians, and the U.S. president,” who she charged “regularly violates our constitution.”

The attorney general oversees a large staff of lawyers who, among other things, handle legal issues for state agencies.

However, Cross said that he can be “more neutral, more unbiased” because he’s not a member of the bar. When asked how he’d have the expertise to oversee the myriad legal issues facing the state, he replied, “You know what, that’s what they’ve got a bunch of lawyers in that office for.”

Rosenblum, a retired judge seeking a third term, said someone in her job needs “experience and expertise” and that a “lack of preparedness will jeopardize Oregonians’ health, rights and environment.”