The Daily Astorian has chosen not to make an endorsement in the Democratic nomination for state attorney general, which is the race for attorney general since the Republicans did not field even a token candidate.

Like the publisher of The Daily Astorian, I have known Judge Ellen Rosenblum for many years, much longer than I have known the candidate I endorse for the job, Dwight Holton.

Former Judge Rosenblum is an intelligent and very well-connected person. Her husband is co-owner of Willamette Week and her endorsements list almost every big shot on the Oregon State Bar.

A vote for Rosenblum is a vote for the legal establishment in Oregon. She has given dramatically different answers to questions about whether Measure 11 (which requires a whole eight years for someone convicted of raping a child) should be overhauled – something Oregon voters have addressed twice, first in 1994, and by a 3-1 vote in 2000.

Her ads show her addressing a faux jury and the voice-over says she will aggressively prosecute child abuse cases, and the text reads that she has “upheld thousands of convictions.” Most importantly, in Oregon the attorney general is not “the top cop,” and has no original criminal jurisdiction except in a few areas like voter fraud. What that means is the only way the attorney general gets involved in child abuse prosecutions is if invited by the people who do the work – the 36 elected district attorneys, none of whom have endorsed Rosenblum.

While Rosenblum probably did uphold many convictions, one main reason so many elected district attorneys endorse Dwight Holton is that Rosenblum developed a reputation as a judge for being very friendly to defendants, and was responsible for reversing a number of high-profile sex abuse and child abuse convictions.

One of the most notorious was the case of Michael Simons, sentenced by a Benton County judge to more than 90 years in prison for sexual abuse after he confessed. He is free today because of Judge Rosenblum’s ruling. My point is that if her judgment as head of the state’s largest law firm will dictate what position the attorney general will take on appellate issues, would she have chosen not to defend the Simons conviction?

Dwight Holton showed himself to be extraordinarily sensitive to community needs in his two years as Oregon’s top federal prosecutor, and he is in fact endorsed by almost every single newspaper in the state, as well as prosecutors and elected sheriffs. I urge fellow Democrats to vote for Dwight Holton for attorney general.


Clatsop County district attorney



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