By Gordon R. Friedman
Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson has been diagnosed with brain cancer and is undergoing treatment for the disease, he announced Wednesday.
Richardson, 68, wrote in a newsletter to constituents that "a small cancerous brain tumor" was found in May and that he is "optimistic" about its treatment.
"We caught it early. I have a treatment plan in place, and I have an exceptional support system here at work and at home," Richardson wrote.
Richardson's chief of staff, Debra Royal, declined to answer questions about what type of cancer Richardson has been diagnosed with, the location of the tumor in the brain or details of his treatment plan. Royal said Richardson would to take questions via his Facebook page, but when he appeared by video, he spoke for less than three minutes and took no questions.
"I'm on the job. I'm going to continue," Richardson said in the video, which was filmed in his office in the Capitol. "I absolutely will fulfill my responsibilities." He promised to keep the public updated on his prognosis.
Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement Wednesday that her thoughts are with Richardson, his family and staff. "I'm heartened by his reputation for perseverance and know he will tackle cancer with the same determination he brings to his work," said Brown, a Democrat whose office has at times clashed with Richardson's.
Richardson has long been a prominent figure in Oregon politics. He served as a Republican state representative from the small southwestern Oregon town of Central Point for six terms, rising to a powerful position as head the budget committee. He secured the Republican nomination for governor in 2014 but ultimately lost to former Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat.
Undeterred, Richardson ran for secretary of state in 2016 and bested Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian after a hard-fought campaign during which Richardson cast himself as a champion of government transparency and fiscal accountability. Now, as secretary of state, Richardson is first in line to the governor and the highest-ranking Republican officeholder in Oregon. He runs an agency of more than 200 people who audit state government programs, oversee Oregon's elections, preserve state archives and keep business registration records.
As for his cancer diagnosis, Richardson said he will take on the disease assertively, drawing on his experience as a combat helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War.
"I've considered my options, set my goal, developed my plan, and failure is not an option," he said.
(c)2018 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)