Oregon Cities

Rayfield, Lathrop will face off in November election for Oregon attorney general

Candidates for Oregon Attorney General in 2024, from left to right: Dan Rayfield, Shaina Maxey Pomerantz and Will Lathrop.

Candidates for Oregon Attorney General in 2024, from left to right: Dan Rayfield, Shaina Maxey Pomerantz and Will Lathrop.

Courtesy of campaigns

Republican and Democratic voters chose their respective nominees for an open Oregon attorney general seat Tuesday, teeing up what could be one of the state’s most competitive contests later this year.

On the Democratic side, former House Speaker Dan Rayfield was easily winning his party’s nomination, according to early returns. He defeated Shaina Maxey Pomerantz, a former state employee who runs the Portland nonprofit Race Talks.

Republicans were poised to nominate Will Lathrop, a former prosecutor in Yamhill and Marion counties who recently returned to the United States after working for an international human rights group in Africa. Lathrop was beating Michael Cross, an entrepreneur and software designer.

Related: Primary election updates: Get the latest news and see who’s leading as votes continue to be counted

The outcome of Tuesday’s primary was never much in doubt. Rayfield and Lathrop were the only candidates in their respective parties raising and spending significant money.

But a sleepy primary is likely to give way to a heated general election. After years of failing to find strong challengers to oppose outgoing Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Republicans believe the race is an opportunity to win an election for statewide office for the first time since Dennis Richardson was elected secretary of state in 2016.

Lathrop, of Newberg, brings a prosecutorial record he hopes resonates with voters concerned about crime and disorder — issues he casts as the result of Democratic mismanagement. His platform leans heavily on using the Oregon Department of Justice to combat drug trafficking, fight government waste, and act as a check on executive power.

“Tonight’s results are further evidence that public safety is the number one concern for Oregonians across the state. Change is needed. I represent a dawn of new leadership that is focused on public service and problem solving – not partisan politics,” he said Tuesday. “As Oregon’s next attorney general I will prioritize keeping Oregonians safe by holding drug traffickers accountable, protecting children from violence, abuse, and online exploitation, and enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on public corruption. Crime is indiscriminate and this position shouldn’t be partisan.”

Rayfield is a personal injury attorney from Corvallis who has spent nearly a decade in the Oregon House. He says he’d also focus on prosecuting drug dealers, but often notes fighting crime is a small piece of the attorney general’s job. Among his other priorities, Rayfield says he would use the role to defend abortion access and environmental protections in national lawsuits.

“As we move to the general election, I will continue to offer a clear vision of keeping Oregonians safe, strengthening our justice system to make it more accountable and fair, standing up for consumers, seniors and children, and protecting our rights from national threats, including on reproductive health and abortion rights,” Rayfield said Tuesday night.

Both candidates have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to date, and the contest is likely to be among the most competitive races in a year featuring three statewide races with no incumbent on the ballot. Voters will also pick a brand new secretary of state and state treasurer.

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