At least three candidates considering the race to replace Attorney General John Kroger, who stunned Oregon's legal and political world's last month with the announcement that he won't seek re-election in 2012, are being constrained by their current jobs.

One of them is assistant U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton, who served as interim U.S. Attorney and elevated the profile of that office while negotiating Portland's re-entry into the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force. As an employee of the U.S. Department of Justice, Holton, 45, is prohibited by the Hatch Act, which governs the political activities of federal employees, from running for partisan office. Holton declined to talk about his plans or thinking about the race.

Another lawyer interested in the race is Donna Maddux, a senior assistant attorney general in the Oregon DOJ's Medicaid Fraud Unit. In 2009, Maddux led the DOJ's criminal investigation into Portland Mayor Sam Adams' relationship with a young man named Beau Breedlove. The investigation resulted in no charges being filed. Maddux, 40, has already held elected office—she served on the Tualatin City Council from 2007 through 2010. She is also a 2010 graduate of Emerge Oregon, a political boot camp for Democratic women interested in running for office. Like Holton, she is constrained by the Hatch Act because her position is 75 percent funded by federal dollars.

"Based on encouragement I have received from people I trust and who understand the Department and the position, I am considering a run for AG," Maddux told WW via her personal email account. "I am meeting with key stakeholders to discuss the pros and cons of launching a state-wide AG race at this time.... My timeline is as soon as practical. Given that the primary election is in May, I believe potential candidates would need to announce no later than January. My process is complicated by the fact that I would need to quit my job before declaring as a candidate (Hatch Act issues) - and I love my job."

A third person contemplating the race is Judge Ellen Rosenblum, who retired from Oregon Court of Appeals in May. (Full disclosure: Rosenblum is married to WW publisher and co-owner Richard Meeker). Rosenblum, 60, is currently serving as a senior judge, which means she hears cases although she's technically retired. Prior to joining the Court of Appeals in 2005, she was a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge for 16 years and a federal prosecutor for eight years prior to that. "I'm thinking about [running]," Rosenblum says. "I have not made a decision yet." Rosenblum says she has no timetable for deciding on whether to enter the race but will cease working as a judge if she decides to run.

Brenda Rocklin
Greg Macpherson