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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: 133851

Reported Deaths: 1803
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah28467459
Washington18734171
Marion16247239
Clackamas11698138
Lane8353109
Jackson693085
Umatilla679368
Deschutes499936
Yamhill319045
Malheur313552
Linn311646
Polk245540
Klamath242838
Josephine174333
Benton170514
Jefferson170525
Douglas168743
Union111416
Wasco108123
Columbia104918
Lincoln99617
Hood River95421
Coos93815
Morrow93810
Clatsop6865
Crook62110
Baker5685
Tillamook3652
Curry3245
Lake2305
Grant2131
Harney1754
Wallowa963
Gilliam511
Sherman470
Wheeler201
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3015644

Reported Deaths: 33724
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles102419013936
San Bernardino2540941560
Riverside2422062517
Orange2123892367
San Diego2117872103
Santa Clara935571076
Kern85362565
Fresno82039932
Sacramento801541080
Alameda67375764
Ventura61257412
San Joaquin57094748
Contra Costa52146449
Stanislaus42548749
Tulare41016501
Monterey35418250
San Mateo32186294
San Francisco29139262
Imperial25253463
Solano25216105
Santa Barbara24481231
Sonoma23871240
Merced23800296
Kings19254133
Placer17194173
San Luis Obispo15658128
Madera13328130
Santa Cruz12196113
Marin11569154
Yolo10519131
Shasta9594117
Butte9411121
El Dorado765944
Sutter760477
Napa752139
Lassen509413
San Benito494143
Yuba481827
Tehama397142
Tuolumne330438
Nevada317673
Mendocino311432
Amador300129
Lake257228
Humboldt232224
Glenn192419
Colusa16919
Calaveras160823
Siskiyou140813
Mono10914
Inyo92429
Del Norte8572
Plumas5735
Modoc3793
Mariposa3464
Trinity3024
Alpine730
Sierra700
Unassigned00
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