Ellen Rosenblum is ready to become Oregon attorney general.

Because there is no Republican candidate, the race to replace John Kroger was settled in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

And Rosenblum was way ahead in the first announced votes – so far that the Associated Press called the race within minutes of the polls closing. In Clatsop County, she earned 2,656 votes to opponent Dwight Holton’s 1,454, a trend reflected statewide.

During the campaign, the two candidates sparred over their experience, Oregon roots and the state’s medical marijuana law.

“I am honored to have been selected by the voters of Oregon as their choice for the Democratic nominee Attorney General of Oregon,” Rosenblum said. “I began this campaign by making a promise to be the ‘People’s Attorney General’ by being a strong advocate for Oregon families, kids and our state’s most vulnerable citizens. I am excited to fulfill that promise both during the general election and as Oregon’s next Attorney General.

“And I am incredibly proud to be on the road to becoming Oregon’s first woman Attorney General. Oregon has a long history of great women leaders, including former Gov. Barbara Roberts, whose leadership has been an inspiration for me and her support invaluable. As always, I remain committed to fighting for and standing up for the rights of women.”

Rosenblum, 61, emphasized her Oregon roots and portrayed Holton as an outsider, pointing out that he joined the Oregon State Bar just three years ago. She joined in 1975.

She was a federal prosecutor in Eugene and Portland for nine years before she was appointed a trial court judge in 1989. She became an Oregon Court of Appeals judge in 2005 and stepped down from the bench last year.

Rosenblum gained significant support from marijuana activists frustrated with Holton, who has called Oregon’s medicinal pot law a “train wreck” and cracked down on marijuana growers he said were using the law as cover for illegal activity. He’s fought back, criticizing Rosenblum’s pledge to make the enforcement of marijuana laws a “low priority.”

“This campaign has deepened my love for and understanding of our state and apprecation for our political system,” she said. “I am both thankful for and humbled by the support I’ve received from all parts of Oregon, from people of all walks of life, and from members of all political parties.”

Holton, 46, was a federal prosecutor for 15 years, first in Brooklyn before transferring to Portland in 2004 and, later, running the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Oregon on an interim basis for nearly two years. Before becoming a lawyer, he worked on presidential campaigns – Michael Dukakis’ in 1988 and Bill Clinton’s in 1992 – and in the Clinton White House.

Holton’s father, Linwood Holton, was a Republican governor of Virginia, elected in 1969, and his brother-in-law, Tim Kaine, is a former Democratic governor of Virginia and chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

In his concession statement, Holton thanked his supporters and wished Rosenblum well.

Kroger decided not to run for another term because of undisclosed health reasons. He was later named president of Reed College in Portland.

The Citizens for Sensible Law Enforcement group campaigned against Holton, stating after the polls closed, “The campaign against Dwight Holton for attorney general seems to have surprised the media and the candidate. But the campaign was determined and strategic from the moment Holton attacked Oregon’s Medical Marijuana law at a Eugene City Club debate in March, and then pledged to work with Republicans to gut the law, as Holton went down to a surprise defeat in the Democratic primary for attorney general.”

“Holton is a long-time opponent of Oregon’s medical marijuana law,” said Bob Wolfe, a director of the group. “He joined in a frenzy of federal attacks on medical marijuana. Every medical marijuana patient and advocate in Oregon saw the threat, and we set out to defeat him.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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