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: 394569

Reported Deaths: 5243
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60720847
Washington42359405
Marion40153516
Clackamas33040387
Lane30428361
Jackson25105363
Deschutes23795189
Umatilla15144184
Linn14859183
Douglas13523293
Josephine10278247
Yamhill9840143
Klamath9112149
Polk8325102
Benton615338
Malheur593292
Coos5768109
Columbia438056
Jefferson424366
Lincoln365852
Crook343057
Union340756
Wasco318646
Clatsop263635
Baker221833
Tillamook218046
Hood River216537
Morrow197825
Curry193939
Harney121333
Grant109116
Lake105617
Wallowa76313
Sherman1933
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5109348

Reported Deaths: 74802
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles153635127246
San Diego4091824350
Riverside3892365381
San Bernardino3762805983
Orange3352965756
Sacramento1690952452
Kern1582701828
Fresno1574692270
Santa Clara1528571928
Alameda1256281512
San Joaquin1080791835
Ventura1043091192
Contra Costa1042181056
Stanislaus919641429
Tulare867391100
San Francisco57141674
San Mateo56585631
Monterey52842626
Solano47828360
Santa Barbara47523555
Merced45309671
Sonoma43349414
Placer42458473
Imperial38932776
Kings35370367
San Luis Obispo31667360
Madera26388311
Shasta26221461
Butte25608318
Santa Cruz22402224
Yolo21722261
Marin18587249
El Dorado18448168
Sutter14646186
Napa13446106
Yuba1079891
Tehama10316131
Humboldt10294119
Nevada10112105
Mendocino864999
Lassen797656
San Benito787979
Tuolumne778491
Lake7057113
Amador580067
Siskiyou479657
Glenn458536
Calaveras445788
Del Norte377942
Colusa328321
Inyo257346
Plumas19577
Mono19034
Mariposa162218
Trinity100717
Modoc7936
Sierra2190
Unassigned1560
Alpine1080
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