During recent debate for Oregon governor, Republican challenger Dennis Richardson admitted that as a state representative from Central Point he doesn’t have a lot of experience with diversity.

Richardson said that during the past two weekends, he and his wife had spent Sundays at churches with primarily African-American congregations.

“It’s been fascinating because it’s different than what I’m used to. In Southern Oregon, there is not a lot of diversity,” Richardson said at the Friday debate held by the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association in Salem.

Despite that, Richardson accused Democratic Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s administration of not having a lot of diversity.

But Kitzhaber said half his appointments have been women and 30 have been people of color, although he didn’t explain whether that was the number or percentage.

“We are trying to build a pipeline of people to come in and join the ranks of state government. It’s extraordinarily important, and I remain deeply committed to reflecting that diversity in our agencies and public institutions,” Kitzhaber said.

Merkley gets ‘President’ actor’s support

In one of the stranger political endorsements in recent memory, actor Michael Douglas has endorsed Democratic Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley for re-election.

One of Douglas’ best-known roles is that of Gordon Gekko, the amoral corporate raider in the 1987 movie “Wall Street” who uttered the classic line, “Greed is good.” Merkley is running against Monica Wehby as a champion of the 99 percent against the 1 percent, a progressive mantra popularized by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

However, Douglas is not endorsing Merkley for his economic views. In a July 20 email from the Merkley campaign, Douglas said he is supporting him on national security grounds, claiming a Republican-controlled U.S. Senate would reverse all of the progress to end the Cold War made over the past few years.

Perhaps Douglas got his foreign policy expertise in the 1995 rom-com “An American President” where he played the leader of the free world.

Candidates earmark big money for ads

In the meantime, Merkley is warning campaign supporters that a conservative nonprofit organization is about to spend nearly $2 million for negative TV ads against him.

The warning was based on a story first reported by Politico’s subscription service and later repeated by The Washington Post. It says the Freedom Partners Action Fund has bought $1.9 million in TV time in Oregon. The organization is supported by David and Charles Koch, two wealthy brothers who support conservative causes and candidates.

The July 17 email warning comes after Merkley’s campaign ran a month of negative TV ads against his Republican opponent, Monica Wehby. The ads, which ran in June, accused her of supporting tax breaks for millionaires and attacks on the middle class, seniors, education and job training. The email was also sent the day before the Salem Statesman-Journal newspaper reported Merkley has reserved an additional $2 million in TV advertising for the final five weeks of the campaign.

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