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Richardson's Treatment for Brain Cancer Raises Concerns

How severely brain cancer is affecting Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson remains unclear, as a curtailment of his public schedule and delegation of some duties to a deputy raise questions about his future in the state's second-highest office.

Posted: Oct 18, 2018 2:09 PM

By GORDON FRIEDMAN , The Oregonian/OregonLive

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — How severely brain cancer is affecting Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson remains unclear, as a curtailment of his public schedule and delegation of some duties to a deputy raise questions about his future in the state's second-highest office.

Richardson, 69, was elected secretary of state in 2016 and is the only Republican holding statewide office in Oregon. He disclosed his cancer diagnosis in June and said he has been aware of the brain tumor since May.

Richardson and his aides have declined to give specifics about his diagnosis or treatment regimen. Asked for details Wednesday, Deb Royal, his chief of staff, said only, "It's as serious as brain cancer is."

Since Richardson revealed his diagnosis, his office has continued its usual work of releasing audit reports, registering corporations and preparing for the Nov. 6 election.

Richardson has continued posting occasional videos to his official Facebook page, such as ones in which he encourages residents to vote or asks fifth-graders to apply for his Kid Governor program. The latter was posted just this week.

Yet there have been signs that the cancer or the treatment of it may be taking a toll.

Richardson's physical appearance has changed as a side effect, giving the normally trim statesman a puffy face and eyes. In September, he attended the national conference of ombudsmen, but Deputy Secretary of State Leslie Cummings gave his scheduled opening remarks.

And a senior state official who recently had a meeting with Richardson described his cognitive abilities as "severely diminished." The official said it is unclear if that is due to cancer treatments or the disease itself. "He was such an energetic person," the official said. "It just makes the contrast stronger."

Richardson, who as secretary of state is second in line to the governorship, has declared he does not intend to resign. Royal signaled Wednesday that he hopes to be re-elected in 2020.

But Richardson has delegated away one key duty, even if temporarily. This week he informed Brown and Reed that Cummings will sit in his place with them on the State Land Board, after he struggled to communicate at the board's previous meeting. Royal said that struggle was because cancer treatments have rendered Richardson exhausted.

"These treatments, they knock your socks off sometimes," Royal said.

Cummings, the deputy, is already charged with overseeing day-to-day operations of Richardson's agency. Cummings was previously a state technology manager, and briefly embroiled in a controversy involving an expensive IT project, before being named deputy secretary of state by Richardson.

If Richardson were to leave office, Brown would appoint an interim secretary of state. She has already done that once, when she appointed longtime Democratic legislative aide Jeanne Atkins in 2015 after she became governor upon John Kitzhaber's resignation.

Royal said Richardson's aides have not discussed his leaving office and remain positive.

"We're planning for him to pull through this," she said.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 175121

Reported Deaths: 2460
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah34937568
Washington23491229
Marion20195299
Clackamas15386204
Lane11591144
Jackson9923127
Umatilla796883
Deschutes712972
Linn416063
Yamhill410175
Klamath349059
Polk344252
Malheur342858
Josephine306362
Douglas304765
Benton273218
Jefferson207032
Coos197531
Columbia154526
Union141624
Lincoln130220
Wasco129128
Hood River112529
Morrow107915
Clatsop8958
Crook88019
Baker85814
Curry5959
Tillamook5813
Lake4137
Grant4124
Harney3066
Wallowa1575
Sherman570
Gilliam561
Wheeler251
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3718210

Reported Deaths: 61038
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles122899723653
Riverside2972154525
San Bernardino2947794555
San Diego2749603674
Orange2689624896
Santa Clara1170812013
Kern1078591322
Sacramento1011721646
Fresno1005621646
Alameda853671477
Ventura802301000
San Joaquin714311334
Contra Costa67019782
Stanislaus603831028
Tulare49383829
Monterey43267357
San Mateo41157560
San Francisco36032523
Santa Barbara33896446
Solano31875239
Merced31196452
Sonoma29696311
Imperial27987719
Kings22774245
Placer21751283
San Luis Obispo20917256
Madera16260239
Santa Cruz15571204
Marin13861226
Yolo13580200
Shasta11677217
Butte11573196
El Dorado9719109
Napa966679
Sutter9268109
Yuba609844
San Benito598663
Lassen566924
Tehama543056
Nevada445775
Tuolumne406664
Mendocino398747
Amador362551
Humboldt358737
Lake340943
Glenn235725
Colusa219816
Calaveras205551
Siskiyou194021
Inyo141738
Del Norte12747
Mono12734
Plumas6906
Modoc4884
Mariposa4247
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned610
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