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Oregon Secretary of State Office

Dennis Richardson, Oregon's current secretary of state, died of brain cancer Tuesday evening.

Richardson, 69, was the first Republican to hold a statewide office in more than a decade.

He was elected to the position in 2016, after a close race with Democrat (and former BOLI commissioner Brad Avakian). Richardson, a Vietnam War veteran, represented Oregon's House District 4—which included Josephine and Jackson counties—for 12 years prior to running as the 2014 Republican nominee for governor against John Kitzhaber, which he lost.

Richardson announced his cancer diagnosis in June 2018, and has regularly updated constituents on his health via social media videos since.

Richardson, a Mormon, was staunchly opposed to gay marriage and abortion. During his tenure in the state House, he pushed for a failed measure that would have required parents to be notified before a minor gets an abortion and voted against two sweeping (and successful) LGBTQ rights bills.

As secretary of state, Richardson published several major audits, including one that underscored serious flaws in the state's foster care system and another critiquing Oregon's burgeoning marijuana industry. As the head of the state's elections division, Richardson debunked rumors perpetuated by Donald Trump of widespread voter fraud—a move that inspired bipartisan support.

Oregon politicians has responded to news of Richardson's death online:


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Per the Oregon constitution, Governor Kate Brown must appoint another Republican to fill Richardson's seat. In a press release, Brown said that she will only consider appointees who will not run for reelection in 2020.

"Regardless of what side of the aisle his colleagues sat on, we all knew Dennis' kind heart guided his career of service to the people of Oregon," said Brown in an emailed statement. "His reputation for perseverance not only guided him through the fight with cancer, it also gave us all reassurance that he was fighting cancer with the same determination he brought to work every day."

Brown has ordered flags fly at half-mast today to honor Richardson's legacy.