West Linn-based political consultant Bridget Barton has joined the field of Republican candidates for Oregon governor.
Barton, a principal in the consulting firm Third Century Solutions, announced her candidacy Thursday in the newsletter of her longtime business partner, Jim Pasero. She pledged to reform the state’s public schools, which she described as broken institutions more interested in political indoctrination than academic instruction.
“Spending on education rose to $9.3 billion per biennium,” she wrote. “Parents got a good hard look at the quality and quantity of education their kids get for that money during this pandemic. Most are heartsick, frustrated and angry.”
Barton joins a crowded field seeking the first Republican gubernatorial win since 1982. It’s an unusually ripe opportunity: It’s just the second time in 25 years that no one is running who has previously held the job. The GOP field already includes Dr. Bud Pierce, a Salem oncologist; Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam; and Jessica Gomez, founder of Rogue Valley Microdevices.
The race is also alluring to Republicans because incumbent Gov. Kate Brown is widely unpopular, and much of the state is seething over several escalating problems: a housing crisis, polarized debates and street conflict over the future of policing, and out-of-control wildfires. Even as Oregon pulls out of pandemic-era closures that paralyzed the economy, Republicans believe they can seize on dissatisfaction to overcome a 300,000-Oregonian disadvantage in voter registration.
Barton sounded several of those notes in her announcement. “Last year we all watched in horror as cowardly politicians in power surrendered to angry, woke mobs,” she wrote. “Then we watched in shock as law enforcement and first responders had their budgets cut, their hands tied, and their morale pushed to an all-time low.…I will stand with law enforcement and will use any means at my disposal to encourage prosecution of law breakers.”
Barton, 68, has been a conservative writer in Oregon for three decades. In 1997, she founded a magazine called Brainstorm NW. She hasn’t held elected office, but has served on several volunteer committees and the board of the anti-union Freedom Foundation. She says she broke horses to put her kids through school, and is a rider in horse jumping competitions.