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Dennis Richardson (copy)

Oregon Republican Secretary of State candidate Dennis Richardson greets supporters in November 2016 in Salem. Richardson died Feb. 26 at age 69 after a battle with brain cancer.

It's Gov. Kate Brown's responsibility to nominate a replacement for Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, and Brown already may have allowed some partisan politics to slip into the selection process.

Richardson, who died of brain cancer on Feb. 26 at the age of 69, was a Republican — the first Republican elected to statewide office in nearly two decades. In part, that's likely because Richardson came across as a relatively nonpartisan candidate for the job, especially when compared to his opponent, Brad Avakian. And, truth be told, the key responsibilities of the position (supervising state elections and auditing state agencies) tend to be relatively nonpartisan.

Brown, a Democrat, is required by state law to appoint a Republican to succeed Richardson, and has received a list of potential appointees from the state GOP. (She should be sure to give careful consideration to the names on that list.)

But Brown also has said that it's her intention to appoint someone who won't run for election to the position in 2020, when Richardson would have run for re-election.

To some extent, there is precedent for that: When Brown ascended to the governor's seat after the 2015 resignation of John Kitzhaber, she was secretary of state, and so one of her first duties was to appoint her own successor. At the time, she said her goal was to nominate someone who didn't want to run for the job in the next election, and so she appointed Jeanne Atkins, a Democrat,  for the reminder of the term. Atkins, true to her word, didn't file to run for the seat, and Richardson defeated Avakian in the 2016 election.

So Brown legitimately can say that she's just following her previous example when she talks about looking for someone who's willing to serve the rest of Richardson's term and then step down.

But Brown also is a savvy politician, and so it's not out of the question that this reasoning has crossed her mind: If her Republican nominee for secretary of state chooses not to run for election in 2020, that means the office won't have a Republican incumbent. And that leaves an open seat to be contested in a state where Democrats hold a substantial edge in registered voters. So, in theory at least, the Democratic nominee for the post would start the race with an advantage over the Republican nominee — unless the Republican nominee had something to counteract that, such as being the incumbent.

It might be best to take these political calculations off the table now: Perhaps the governor's best bet in finding the right successor for Richardson would be not to limit the field by seeking only potential nominees who are willing to step aside after the 2020 elections. (mm)

It's a 'Marvel'

"Captain Marvel," the latest superhero movie from Marvel Studios, had a blockbuster opening over the weekend, selling some $153 million in tickets in the United States.

That's impressive. But here's what's better: The big box office for a movie featuring (gasp!) a female superhero could finally convince some internet trolls to just shut up.

Before it was released, "Captain Marvel" was dogged by nasty online comments from people who balked at the prospect of a woman top-lining a Marvel movie. (Oscar winner Brie Larson plays the title character, and she has handled these outrageous slings and arrows with grace and even a touch of humor.)

It got to the point where trolls were taking to the website Rotten Tomatoes to post one-star reviews before the movie was released Friday — and, yes, that means they were posting their reviews before they had seen the movie. (Rotten Tomatoes says it's overhauling the site to prevent this sort of nonsense in the future.)

Moviegoers didn't buy into this fusillade of fake reviews, and they flocked to the movie over the weekend. Most of them liked the movie just fine, and treated the trolls in the best possible way — by ignoring them. (mm)

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