West Linn woman Bridget Barton announced July 15 that she was joining a growing field of candidates vying to become Oregon's first Republican governor in 40 years.
Barton, 68, announced her candidacy in a news release Thursday, writing that Oregon is in crisis thanks to the "cowardly politicians in power."
Barton moved to West Linn in 1980 after growing up in Virginia and living in Los Angeles for two years.
In her news release Barton mentioned helping Oregon's rural residents and small business owners, who she said have been failed by the state's leaders. In an interview she told Pamplin Media Group she plans to help all Oregonians by bringing balance back to Salem.
"We haven't had a Republican governor for 40 years, and Democrats have held almost all major positions in the state throughout those 40 years," Barton said. "So what we need to do is bring back some balance because in that time the state has just been in a steady decline. And now we've reached a complete crisis point. So, we need to have new ideas and new vision, and the strength and the courage to really make some significant changes in Oregon."
Though Barton, having never held elected office, stresses that she's not a politician, she says her involvement in politics began back in the late 1980s when she was a freelance writer and penned a regular column for the West Linn Tidings. In that role, Barton took a keen interest in education policy and, in particular, the growing movement for charter schools.
In 1997, Barton and Jim Pasero launched the conservative business magazine Brainstorm NW.
"Launching a magazine, a conservative business magazine, was a risk in Oregon. It was very difficult, but we decided that it was important work that needed to be done," Barton said.
The magazine's run ended in 2009, but Barton noted it lives on in digital format as the Oregon Transformation Newsletter, publishing conservative commentary on unions, business support, education and more. The Oregon Transformation Newsletter is now tied with Barton and Pasero's public affairs agency, Third Century Solutions.
Over the past several years, Barton, Pasero, their agency and their publication also have been tied to conservative political action committees including ActionPAC and, formerly, Oregon Transformation Project. In 2012, the Oregon Transformation Project helped fund the successful campaigns of Republican Clackamas County Commissioners Tootie Smith and John Ludlow.
Barton said her experiences and connections with Third Century Solutions and Oregon Transformation will be valuable in her campaign for governor because they have the same priorities as her campaign: business advocacy, rural interests and average families.
"It's given me the opportunity to meet and form relationships with a lot of these people around the state, and those are the people who I want to serve. And now, now is my opportunity to give back," she said.
Though the crowd of Republicans vying for a nomination is wide, Barton believes she stands out.
"I am an outsider to to actual partisan politics. I'm a very solid conservative, but I have a reputation as a thoughtful, deliberate solid conservative. I bring strength, determination and a willingness to do very hard things," Barton said.
"I'm not here to build a career in politics. Oregon is in crisis, and I'm here to get the job done. I'm here to solve some problems: homelessness, crime, education."
Though she lamented the Democrats' dominance of Oregon politics in recent years, Barton said she could still win over many of the state's independent voters who she thinks are disenfranchised within the current system.
"Everyone recognizes that the state is in crisis, and that Kate Brown has been abysmal as our leader," she said. "I believe everyone is looking for change. And what I'm going to offer them is an opportunity to make that change. ... We have to come together and have the courage for change in the state."
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