Oregon GOP picks Art Robinson as new chairman

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Oregon's Republican Party has a new leader.

The party selected former congressional candidate Art Robinson as chairman Saturday in a 55-52 vote over party Vice Chairman Bill Currier, The Oregonian reported.

Robinson, a chemist and outspoken skeptic of human-caused global warming, ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., in 2010 and 2012. He ran for the party chairman position in February but was eliminated in the first round of balloting.

Robinson replaces Suzanne Gallagher, who resigned Friday just ahead of a recall vote brought by party officials accusing her of mismanagement. Gallagher had led the state GOP since February, and in stepping down she warned that if the party is perceived as "divided and dysfunctional," funding from national Republican groups could suffer.

"The events in the last couple of months are a testimony to why Republicans are not seen in a good light," Gallagher said. "The actions of some members have demonstrated the character flaws perceived by the public as uncaring, angry and antagonistic."

Republicans face challenges in organizing voters and electing candidates statewide in Oregon, where there are 181,000 more registered Democrats.

The 2010 election was a boon for the party, leading to a tie in the Oregon House of Representatives and a narrow loss for Republican Chris Dudley in the governor's race. But Democrats buoyed by President Barack Obama's re-election retook the state House in 2012.

Republican strategists hope the coming election cycle, which doesn't feature a presidential race, will play out more like 2010. But a misstep in fundraising or organizing could upset those hopes.

Lisa Michaels, a supporter of Gallagher, said she was sorry to see her resign but was excited that Robinson got the job.

"He's hard-working and he does the right thing for the people," Michaels said.


Information from: The Oregonian