Brown as governor elicits praise, apprehension

Democratic leaders excited for Brown, as Republicans worry new governor will sidestep rural Oregon

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Kate Brown was sworn in as the new governor of Oregon Wednesday.

The Portland Democrat’s rise to the highest office in the state has yielded mixed reactions.

The Portland Tribune provided a roundup of statements from lawmakers.

As expected, Democrats were excited for Brown to assume her new role.

Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem):

“Gov. Kate Brown is an energetic and pragmatic leader. She knows the Legislature. She knows the executive branch. She knows the judiciary. She knows how to make them work together. She has a tremendous ability to focus and see things through to the finish.

“She has a sparkle that attracts people and is a master at building relationships. She will surround herself with a talented team and empower them to succeed.

“Gov. Brown has been called on to serve Oregon at a challenging time. She is strong and determined. She will connect with the public. She will lead. Gov. Brown will get the job done for Oregon and her people.”

Republican legislators offered their best wishes, followed by a plea for bipartisanship.

House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte):

“On behalf of the House Republican Caucus, I congratulate Governor Brown and her family on this important day. I’m hopeful that Governor Brown will guide our state in a bipartisan manner and I look forward to working with her to serve all Oregonians.”

Sen. Jackie Winters (R-Salem):

“Yesterday, we as a body were divided. We are at our best when we set partisanship aside and work together. I offer my best wishes to Governor Brown and her family on this historic day and it is my hope that our new governor can bring us together to restore trust and bipartisanship to Oregon’s government. I look forward to working with her.”


The Portland Business Journal reported on the “fear” of Republicans that the urban/rural schism will increase under Brown’s leadership.

“When you look at the total picture, the largest employer in most of our communites is the government,” [Senate Majority Leader Ted Ferrioli]said. “It’s the Forest Service, the (Bureau of Land Management), the city, the state, special districts, hospital districts.”

And that’s an issue because, as Ferrioli details it, government jobs start with immediate subtractions because they’re funded by taxpayers: “Whereas the private sector starts with an addition, there’s money going back into the community,” he said. “The problem we’re having in Eastern oregon is that there aren’t enough private-sector employers. And that can be related to the majority (being) in the (Interstate 5) corridor.”

Reflecting that concern, the Medford Mail Tribune wrote an editorial asking “Will Brown reach out to rural Oregon?”

Brown has the good fortune — if there can be such a thing under these circumstances — to come into the office with the economy on the upswing. For, as much as the policy wonks debate political precepts and cultural metrics, we all know it is indeed the economy, stupid. No far-sighted agenda can make it out the door if the economy is sour. Money may not buy you love, but it can buy you full-day kindergarten.

What seems to escape the folks in Salem — and especially those who drive to Salem from the north — is that the rising tide is not lifting all boats equally. Certainly, the economy is better across the state, but when Nike talks of adding 2,000 jobs with minimum $100,000 salaries, the good folks in places like Douglas, Curry, Klamath, Josephine and, yes, Jackson County have a hard time relating. We’ve been down so long, a footrest starts to look like up.