March 8th, 2010 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

Sen. Rick Metsger Jumps Into the Treasurer's Race: Updated

Rick Metsger

State Sen. Rick Metsger (D-Welches) entered the race today for state treasurer, just ahead of tomorrow's 5 pm filing deadline for all candidates in Oregon. The treasurer's position opened yesterday with the death of incumbent Treasurer Ben Westlund, who died of cancer at the age of 60.

Metsger, a 59-year-old former sports anchor at KOIN, has served in the Senate since 1999, chairing the Transportation Committee for the past two terms. Metsger ran for Secretary of State in 2008, finishing second in the Democratic primary to Kate Brown.

Although Metsger has been unavailable by phone this morning, he responded to a text-message question about whether he will enter the race with one word:

"Yes."

Anna Richter Taylor, a spokesman for Gov. Ted Kulongoski, says her boss has not yet decided whom to appoint to fill the treasurer's position for the rest of the year.

Updated with Metsger quote at 11:33 am:

Metsger says that after the February special legislative session, he said "goodbye" to his political friends and colleagues and prepared to return to the private sector, only to learn Sunday morning of Westlund's death.

"I consider myself one of Ben's close friends," Metsger says. "He had the kind of up-beat personality that was a rare quality around the capital. I was planning to go see him at his ranch this week."

He says Westlund knew he was unlikely to survive his four-year term, which began in January 2009.

"Ben and I had talked about things a while back," Metsger says. "But it [Westlund's death] happened much faster than most of us thought."

Metsger says tomorrow's filing deadline has compressed his decision-making process.

"This is a huge tragedy but the way the timing [works] you have to do it [run] or not. I talked to folks who are close to Ben," he adds. "His campaign staff worked with me previously and we had a lot common in that regard. I think Ben would be pleased that I'm running."
 
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