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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.

Confirmed Cases: 9636

Reported Deaths: 209
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah236169
Marion159547
Washington149120
Clackamas79524
Umatilla6674
Union3551
Lincoln3452
Deschutes2010
Lane1963
Malheur1601
Linn1569
Polk15412
Jackson1400
Yamhill1328
Jefferson1310
Klamath1251
Benton915
Hood River880
Wasco851
Morrow821
Clatsop490
Douglas450
Josephine441
Coos420
Columbia350
Lake200
Tillamook130
Crook120
Wallowa100
Curry80
Baker40
Sherman20
Grant10
Harney10
Gilliam00
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

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Confirmed Cases: 250514

Reported Deaths: 6315
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Los Angeles1078063457
Riverside19450479
Orange15778360
San Diego15696387
San Bernardino13676269
Imperial6979105
Alameda6472140
Fresno562677
Kern510080
Santa Clara4849160
Tulare4627136
San Joaquin447455
San Francisco377650
Sacramento355969
San Mateo3441108
Contra Costa343279
Santa Barbara326129
Ventura324047
Marin271019
Kings258332
Stanislaus239144
Monterey179115
Solano147625
Merced127211
Sonoma126710
Placer78611
San Luis Obispo7012
Yolo58324
Madera5665
Santa Cruz4173
Napa3444
San Benito2572
Lassen2340
Butte2063
El Dorado2060
Sutter2063
Humboldt1444
Shasta1354
Nevada1231
Glenn1220
Yuba1031
Tehama881
Lake850
Mendocino850
Colusa700
Calaveras530
Del Norte511
Tuolumne430
Mono411
Inyo331
Siskiyou310
Mariposa271
Amador260
Plumas110
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
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