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Capital Chatter: Cancer can't dull Richardson's optimism

Oregon state officials of all political stripes wish Dennis Richardson well.

Secretary of State Dennis Richardson on Wednesday revealed that he was diagnosed last month with a small, cancerous tumor in his brain and has started treatment. The announcement — which came in a newsletter from Richardson followed by a brief Facebook video — made national news.

Richardson often talks about being shaped by his experience as an Army combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam, and his diagnosis is no exception.

He wrote in his newsletter: "While this was a difficult diagnosis to hear, I'm blessed and optimistic. We caught it early. I have a treatment plan in place, and I have an exceptional support system here at work and at home. I am taking on this challenge the same way I've taken on every challenge since my days flying 'Night Hawk' as a combat helicopter pilot — I've considered my options, set my goal, developed my plan, and failure is not an option."

In the Facebook video, Richardson emphasized that he would continue fulfilling his office duties while undergoing treatment.

Richardson and his wife, Cathy, have nine children. In a later post, he said telling his children about his cancer was one of the most difficult moments of his life.

After his public announcements on Wednesday, Richardson headed to a grandson's graduation in Southern Oregon. Good for him!

• Best wishes: Democratic Gov. Kate Brown tangles with Republican Richardson but she joined others in sending their best wishes: "My thoughts are with Secretary Richardson, his family, and staff as they face this challenging time. I'm heartened by his reputation for perseverance and know he will tackle cancer with the same determination he brings to his work."

Bill Currier, chair of the Oregon Republican Party: "We offer our prayers for Secretary of State Dennis Richardson's healing and continued recovery, and for his family as they support him in the challenges to come. Dennis is one of the real class acts in politics in our state and a treasured public servant. …"

Oregon Senate Republican Leader Jackie Winters, Salem: "… From my years of working with the Secretary, I know that his fighting spirit and strong faith will serve him well through this battle."

• Buehler looks for leaders: Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler continues his frequent fundraising appeals. For $25, supporters could claim a spot on his leadership team. At one point, such donors also would get "an official Knute for Governor bumper sticker."

On Tuesday, the campaign dropped the price to $1 before raising it again.

• Spend Comcast settlement on PERS: Comcast and the Oregon Department of Revenue have been fighting since 2009 over the company's property taxes in 10 counties. Gov. Brown announced an estimated $155 million settlement and urged local governments to use the proceeds to reduce what they owe the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System.

The counties are Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington and Yamhill.

Brown's press release included rousing endorsements from mayors Ted Wheeler, Portland; Denny Doyle, Beaverton; and Lucy Vinis, Eugene.

Don't be surprised if Brown's re-election campaign touts her success in this area. The statement from Wheeler included: "My colleagues and I value Governor Brown's leadership on the litigation with Comcast. As former State Treasurer, I appreciate and recognize the economic and financial complexities of this settlement and the necessity to provide retirement security to Oregon's workers."

• Jury duty, Congress and wildfires: Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden showed up for jury duty last month at the Multnomah County Courthouse but was not selected.

Wyden and Sen. Jeff Merkley hold town halls in every Oregon county each year. Last week Wyden was in the Lake County town of Paisley, which he said has about 243 residents.

Such visits by Democrats Merkley and Wyden won't be happening late this summer. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, canceled most of the Senate's August recess. He blamed "historic obstruction" by Democrats on presidential appointees and legislation.

On the other hand, Wyden, Merkley, McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, jointly hailed passage of their bipartisan resolution designating June 4-10 as Hemp History Week. The four are pushing to legalize hemp farming in the U.S., which is they said is the world's largest consumer of hemp products.

Through the centuries, hemp has been used to "produce many innovative industrial and consumer products, including soap, fabric, textiles, construction materials, clothing, paper, cosmetics, food and beverages." Now you know a little hemp history.

Separately, Wyden also has been questioning federal agencies about whether enough air tankers are available this year for the West's wildfire season.

• Yogi Berra all over again: During the one-day special legislative session last month, state Rep. E. Werner Reschke, R-Klamath Falls, initially misattributed Yogi Berra's comment, "It's déjà vu all over again."

Attribution aside, this week does seem like "déjà vu all over again." Oregon's capital has been back in a water-quality alert, the four Salem-area state prisons were adjusting their operations as a result; and elsewhere in the state, wildfire season was underway.

Dick Hughes, who writes the weekly Capital Chatter column, has been covering the Oregon political scene since 1976. Contact him at TheHughesisms@Gmail.com, Hughesisms.com/Facebook, YouTube.com/c/DickHughes or @DickHughes on Twitter.