Former state Rep. Greg Macpherson (D-Lake Oswego) announced today he will seek appointment to the Senate District 19 seat that currently held by Sen. Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin).
Macpherson served in the House from 2003 to 2009 and chaired the House Judiciary Committee. A longtime pension benefits lawyer who recently retired from the Stoel Rives firm, Macpherson served as the point man for Gov. Ted Kulongoski's 2003 cuts to the Public Employees Retirement System.
That work proved costly to Macpherson in 2008, when he ran for Oregon Attorney General. Entering the race, he had strong support from the business community and moderate Democrats and a well-known name—both his grandfather and father served in the Legislature before him. Macpherson's father, former state Sen. Hector Macpherson (R-Corvallis) was one of the authors of 1973's Senate Bill 100—the bill that created Oregon's land use planning system and the urban growth boundary.
But in the 2008 Democratic primary, Macpherson faced a newcomer to Oregon politics—a former federal prosecutor from New York named John Kroger. Kroger, who'd also worked previously for U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was new to Oregon but politically savvy and the public employee unions still smarting from the 2003 PERS cuts got behind him.
Kroger defeated Macpherson 56 percent to 44 percent, a result that political insiders still cite as an example of what can happen to Democrats who push for PERS cuts. (Kroger resigned in 2012 and became president of Reed College.)
After his defeat, Macpherson continued to practice law and served for eight years on the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission, which protects farmland and open spaces. He chaired that commission for the past four years and served as the president of the City Club of Portland in 2015 and 2016.
Devlin is vacating his seat for an appointment to the Public Power and Conservation Planning Council. The county commissions in his district—Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington—will appoint his successor. Whoever gets the appointment will enjoy only a short incumbency because Devlin's seat is up for re-election next year.
"I am seeking the Senate seat for District 19 because of my experience, commitment to public service, and passion for progressive values," said Macpherson in a statement. "We need experienced leaders who can hit the ground running in Salem to fight for our values and priorities. We face urgent needs to address shortfalls in school and transportation funding, and legal expertise that can stand up against a federal government at odds with basic rights."