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Richardson, Hake run low-profile campaigns

Running for a sixth term in the House, Rep. Dennis Richardson said he hopes to continue as co-chairman of the powerful, budget-writing Ways and Means Committee and help get state spending geared to the "new paradigm" of today's economy.

"My goal is to get Oregon on a solid economic foundation with a rational spending policy that looks to the future (revenues) and not just to the current budget cycle," said Richardson.

Democrats did not field a candidate to challenge Richardson for the 4th District in the Nov. 6 election, but Williams resident Richard Hake of the Constitution Party filed for the seat and will appear on the ballot.

"What sets me apart from Richardson is that he concentrates on the budget and taxes to make ends meet and the Legislature has made Oregon one of the most tax-happy states in the union," said Hake.

Hake said he is conservative and "not very far to the right of Richardson," but he takes the position against federal intervention with medical marijuana growers, feeling it should be the job of the sheriff, and opposes farming with genetically modified organisms, noting "it's poisoning everything" and compromising heirloom-quality seeds.

Hake ran for Congress in 2008. He is not distributing brochure mailers, lawn signs or submitting a Voter's Pamphlet statement, but is campaigning by "talking to people," doing interviews and radio talk shows and maintaining a website, www.rickhake.com.

Richardson is not bothering with lawn signs or mailers this time around, either.

"I just keep making appearances, going on talk radio, sending my e-newsletters, answering questions and staying in touch with my constituents," he said. "But most of my time is preparing for the 2013 session's budget issues, whether we're in the majority or minority."

Given the current economy, government needs to consolidate programs and agencies and rein in salaries, benefits and pensions of public employees, he said.

The House is split down the middle, with 30 Democrats and 30 Republicans, meaning Richardson shares the Ways and Means chairmanship with Peter Buckley, D-Ashland. If Republicans falter in this election and Richardson loses his role as chairman, he said he would focus on energy, water, agriculture and transportation issues 10 to 20 years out and "try to identify fundamental issues that are affecting Oregon's prosperity."

Richardson wants to develop more solar and wind power, but go beyond that to alternative forms, including wave power from the ocean, he said.

A tax lawyer, Richardson wants to move forward with creating a "business-friendly" tax system and good infrastructure in Oregon.

House District 4 includes Rogue River, Gold Hill, Eagle Point, White City, Central Point and runs to the edge of Grants Pass.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.