Breaking News: Charlie Ringo is Out

RingoAccording to a statement today, State Senator Charlie Ringo will decline to run for re-election.

Ringo represents parts of Washington County, and his 2002 campaign against right-winger Bill Witt was one of the hardest-fought and most-expensive legislative campaigns in state history.

Ringo said that he wants to devote time to his family: “My boys are 6 and 7 years old. I want to spend more time with them hiking, camping, and fishing. Reese and Joseph deserve a full-time father who spends more time with them on the Pacific Crest Trail than on the campaign trail.” ...

As a former Chair of the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club, Ringo brought a wealth of environmental experience to the Legislature, where he pushed for greater protections for Oregon’s rivers and forests. He also worked to craft a compromise bill to address the land use issues raised by Measure 37. ...

Will the Senate Dems find a candidate to replace him?
Does control of the State Senate hang in the balance?
What will Ringo's absence mean for issues he worked on - environment, school funding, nonpartisan legislature?


  • Jesse O (unverified)

    Yay! Yay! Yay! Finally, we won't have a so-called friend who stabs us in the back by claiming to be the voice of the environment yet advocating for, and spreading lies about, Measure 37 and eviscerating our land use laws.

    He's biding his time to run for Beaverton Mayor, but glad to hear he's out.

    As far as replacements, might be hard. But there's no reason to think that the D's don't have a decent chance at this trending-more-Democratic district.

  • LT (unverified)

    I always liked Charlie Ringo. If Jesse O is glad he's not running, I hope Jesse O will spend a lot of time looking for a better candidate and helping that candidate win.

    I think Charlie was trying to solve some very difficult problems, and if he decided that spending time with young school kids was a higher priority, more power to him.

    10 years from now when those kids are in high school, having spent time with them now will be a great thing, and more important than having run for office.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    Did Charlie put his Aunt Louise on the payroll, like most Oregon lawmakers?

    Sure, Aunt Weezie is nice, especially when she ain't drinking, but is her award-winning Pecan Pie really enough to make her Chief of Staff?

    Only in Oregon.

    And Nigeria.

  • frank carper (unverified)

    there were all kinds of rumors a while back that he was going to run against david wu

    guess not

  • Jesse O (unverified)

    Hey, I have sympathy for anyone who tries to deal with Measure 7/37/takings -- they are enormously complex issues. But Charlie was creating problems where none existed. The vast majority of Oregonians beleive that our land planning system is good or too weak, and Charlie was trying to weaken it.

    He looked at Measure 37 without adequate opinion research and drew incorrect conclusions, which he then spread around the Capitol and created a common mantra that we need to weaken our laws. And as he was OLCV's Mr. Environment, he has done lasting damage to decision maker's common perception of what voters were -- and were not -- saying in voting for Measure 37.

    It was disgrace, and one not to be forgiven until he cleans up after himself.

    That said, I'm completely sympathetic to someone who would rather backpack than go to Salem.

  • Randy (unverified)

    The natural choices to replace Ringo would be one of the State Reps. I am pretty sure that Reps. Avakian and Greenlick comprise Ringo's seat. Greenlick is busy with his health care initiative - so Avakian seems the most likely heir.

  • (Show?)

    I served on Charlie's campaign steering committee for his Senate election and will miss his leadership very much. I have great respect for the way he tried against all odds to find a workable compromise on M37. That he could not and we are back in the realm of lawsuits and initiatives speaks very poorly for out political institutions.

  • Winston Wolfe (unverified)

    Well that sucks for the Senate D's.

    The only safe seat coming back in 2006 just came into play.

    Ferrioli must be licking his chops right now.

    Good times!

  • Mike Selvaggio (unverified)

    So... Republicans are villified for being bought out by special interests, but with Democrats we demand it of them?

    Senator Ringo wasn't bought out by any interests, and the concept seems to confound the Lefty McLeftersons who expected a kind of Environmental Ringo-bot.

    I was immensely proud to have worked for Senator Ringo who was, in the face of a Measure 37 mandate from the voters, willing to try to bring both sides to the table and forge a middle ground. Senator Ringo drew ire from extremists on both sides of the aisle for his work on M37... but I think more unfairly by the left, who seemed to forget that despite a lefty disapproval of M37, it was in fact the law of the land. (Remember... the vote? ... the thing in November 2004?)

    Regardless of how (un)safe the political waters seemed, Senator Ringo never shirked from what he considered a civic duty to forge solutions on difficult issues.

    Yes, I can think of many, many legislators that have a brighter seal of approval from armchair activists. And I can think of many legislators who, when faced with a potentially unpopular decision, choose to play it safe and never engage the issue at all.

    District 17 is lucky to have a Senator who represents the entire district -- not just the winning side. Why is that a trait we applaud only in Republicans?

  • Jesse O (unverified)

    (a) The environment isn't a special interest, it's the public interest -- special interests benefit themselves, public interests benefit others.

    (b) Measure 37 was illegal. And anyone talking to voters realized that they didn't know the consequences of their vote. Indeed, not even lawyers could explain what Measure 37 would do -- and they're still arguing about it.

    (c) Forge solutions? He was forging problems. The lefty side came in with real solutions, and the righty side was just trying to expand the scope of Measure 37 -- not compromise.

  • (Show?)

    Why have I not seen this anywhere else? And how weird is that the top posting on Oregon Political Staffer is for a Leg Staffer for Charlie Ringo?


    I have alot of respect for Charlie. I was there when he made his decision to run for the first time and I wish him nothing but the best.

  • (Show?)

    I'd imagine Avakian might make a run for that seat. He's well connected in the district and by all appearances is quite popular.

    This region seems (as someone else mentioned) shading more blue all the time. Its unlikely that the GOP can pick this spot up unless its a pretty liberal person.

    And then they wouldn't be welcome in the Oregon GOP fold.

  • Lefty McLefterson (unverified)

    Who are you to say what I expect from anyone? And who the hell has a name like McLefterson...?

  • Brian Newman (unverified)

    damn, this just ruins my day. I have enormous respect for Charlie and will miss his presence in the legislature. He is a real level-headed problem solver and one of the more rational voices in Salem. I hope he returns to politics some day and if he is thinking of running for mayor of Beaverton once Drake step down (this is news to me), I'd fully support him. Hell, the pay is 5x that of a legislator. I didn't agree with Charlie on all of his M37 rewrite, but I give him credit for trying.

  • stayputSenator (unverified)

    First off I love Ringo, Senate Land Use Committee "fix", aside. Secondly, these elected people have alot of nerve after we bust our butts getting them elected to turn one term in and then quit. Estimates on Ringo's 2002 Senate campaign run upwards of $500,000, that is not mentioning the tons of work OLCV, NARAL, and others did to get him elected. Metsger finally came to his senses and went back to his Senate seat.

    Lets hope Vicki Walker does the same.

    It is 100% irresponsible to vacate a hard won seat without having a bonafide replacement in hand. The only possible good reason is a legitimate health concern (ie senator to be named later)

    If any other legislators/candidates out there are reading this, take this to heart. If you aren't planning on holding your seat, don't ask us to work to elect you. And don't leave us in the lurch scrambling for a replacement.

    We have to focus on the House, the Senate is supposed to be "safe" this year. Now, the 18-12 majority is in danger of going back to 16-14 or worse.

    Senator Walker should run for and win her Senate seat, Senator Ringo should come to his senses, and Senator Bates, Courtney, and Prozanski better win and stick around for a while.

    You bet Ferrioli is licking his chops. We keep self destructing. And we need a bench.

  • Woo (unverified)

    First Hass, now Ringo. Two relatively moderate D's from the west metro area that won't be going back to the legislature. Wonder if there's a trend developing . . .

  • (Show?)

    Senator Feriolli is indeed licking his chops and yes he is recruiting social moderates all over the state. He's dug up an pro choice, pro civil marriage candidate to run against Rick out here in SD-26. He will undoubtedly try to do the same in Ringo's district.


    I'm assuming that "stayputsenator" has already filed to run for a house or senate seat since he/she's bold enough to state:

    It is 100% irresponsible to vacate a hard won seat without having a bonafide replacement in hand. The only possible good reason is a legitimate health concern (ie senator to be named later)

    What's really irresponsible is calling out people who have already busted their butts for the state and the party. These people put their families on virtual hold or worse during the entire campaign and then again during session. They work incredible hours for party and for state to be rewarded with streams of abuse from allies and opponents alike, and for no money.


    Seems like everyone on this blog (including yours truly) has ten different ideas about how to bell the danged cat, but few indeed that actually want to fasten the bell on the collar.


    Ringo has been one of the best in his time working for our side. I'll miss his input, intellect, and energy.

  • Ted Blaszak (unverified)

    Charlie Ringo is my friend. I think the world of him. I have meet a lot of people in life and Charlie’s as good as it gets.

    And we were lucky to have him as a legislator. Charlie is hardworking, compassionate, and honest.

    Charlie still believes in a better world and I’ll give him a lot of credit for that. So many in Salem have become jaded, they punch in, they punch out, eyes on the clock; how much longer until the next election. But Charlie always hung in there. Beaten down by lobbyist, gridlock, and partisanship, Charlie never lost hope. I think Charlie will always believe that Oregon and the world could be much better places then they are now and that he could make a difference.

    Charlie did some good things as a legislator, he did some great things, and he stopped some horrible things. He always did what he knew to be the right thing. Some times that was not popular, but he all gave all he could to the cause. Though you may not agree with him, you can never take that away, so I say to those of you who have made callous heckles posted on this blog you should be ashamed.

    And thank you Charlie.

  • (Show?)

    I just read this along with the rest of you and am truly sorry to see Charlie go.

    I managed Charlie's 2002 campaign and consider him not only a good Legislator, but a helluva good guy. I wish him well in taking some long overdue time off to hang with Reese and Joe (and Julie). He's put in six years down in Salem, and I would be surprised if he didn't return to public life at some point in the future. It would be a loss if he didn't.

    I've worked for a fair amount of electeds, but I can honestly say that on the campaign trail, no one worked harder than Charlie. Sometimes we butted heads over strategy (as is common in any tough race), but at the end of the day, I was always extremely proud to work for someone with the drive and focus he brought to the contest. We've had a better Leg because of his work.

    I think it's tempting to forget, but at the time of his Senate election, the outcome was anything but certain. And if things had gone differently, I have no doubt that Bill Witt would be the person to beat in the GOP's gubnatorial primary this year. Witt said as much about his intentions to us, the Oregonian, and really anyone who'd listen.

    Chris Smith (above) is being modest too - he not only served on the steering committee, but also built one of the best Leg. websites of the cycle (recognized at the time by the Big O) and was a tremendous help in the effort. And Mike S. was part of a field program that made all the difference on the ground at a time when we were getting beat pretty badly on TV and in the editorial pages of the Oregonian and WW. It was a great campaign, and an honor to be a part of.

    The Senate Ds will be fine - it's the House Ds would might have to come up with a candidate depending on who jumps in. But again, I wish Charlie all the best in taking some much deserved down time. Also, while his name may not be on the ballot, there are a lot of ways to influence public policy and make a difference. I know he'll stay active and look forward to more good work from Charlie in the future.

  • stayputSenator (unverified)

    No need to file, my representative and senator aren't going anywhere. And if I did file, I sure as heck wouldn't blow out $500K+ and then serve one term. Like I said at the start, I think Ringo was awesome and I also respect Walker, but I didn't spend 9mos of unpaid work day in/day out to have to do it all over again in four years. When we elect someone as promising as Ringo or Walker or Haas we should get to breathe a bit easier in that district for a few years and focus on some of the other races.( Dalto, Farr, Brown etc) Now, we might have fight battles we weren't expecting. We all know the power of incumbency.

    Senator Walker is a great Senator, but I detest her desire to throw it away on a pipe dream of a run for Governor. She can win her Senate seat and we should ALL work hard for her if (and hopefully when) she runs for it. And I'll support her in 2008 if she wants to run for Secretary of State (because she will be mid-term and its much more attainable), but I won't support her run for Governor.

    Ringo might make a great mayor of Beaverton, but since I don't live in Beaverton it makes heck all difference to me. Where it does matter is in the Senate. And yes, either Greenlick or Avakian will make great senators, but then we have to fight for a House seat(and we can't afford to lose a single one)

    As a rank and file I have every right to complain when I see my hard work get tossed away. And I groan when I think about all the unneccessary work people will have to put in to keep a seat that was fine to begin with.

    So, every elected should consider the hard work of everyone who elected them in the first place before making decisions that make all of us feel completely used.

    Good luck Charlie, thanks for the good times, sorry you had to go so soon. I quote the Carpenters......... "we'd only just begun......."


  • (Show?)

    Avakian was one of only 2 Ds in the House of Representatives who voted against SB 408, the bill to stop utilities from charging Oregonians some $150 million per year in federal, state, and local income taxes that in fact the utilities are not paying to those governments. The overall vote there was 54-6 and in the Senate was 30-0. Some might say he is heavily influenced by PGE.

  • Julie Ringo (unverified)

    Thanks to all of the kind words. As Charlie's wife, I know how many countless hours he worked and the hours of sleep lost. This decision was not taken lightly. I also know Charlie's deep love for Oregon and the environment. He would NEVER sell out!!!

  • Robert Harris (unverified)

    This news highlights the need to reform how we compensate our elected officals. If Sen. Ringo had been able to spend more time with his family and still hold his Senate would he? If he could have counted on a higher salary from the State for his legislative work could he have cut back on his law practice so had that extra precious time AND enough income to take care of his family needs?

    Coincidentally, there was a letter in the Oregonian today from former Rep. Randy Miller who said we don't need to pay legislators more because the best legislators are people who are successful, made a bunch of money in private business, so do it for public service rather than money. (So apparently by MR. Millers standards Mother Teresa wasn't a very successful person). The perhaps unsaid part of this is that we can keep people like Sen. Ringo out of the legislature and keep people like Randy Miller in.

    Anyway....both Sen. Ringo and Randy Miller have recently given those of you who don't see the need for a change in compensation for legislators something to think about.

  • LT (unverified)

    I think we need to discuss compensation of legislators because I know both Charlie and Randy and agree we need more Charlie Ringo public servants.

    BUT--and I have had a conversation with my former state rep about this--we also need accountability and reform measures for a serious compensation debate to take place.

    We should have a serious discussion of various forms of campaign finance reform incl. not only public financing but "pass throughs" from one campaign to another, whether money should be contributed directly to candidates or if leadership funds are really open with where the money comes from and goes, whether all political money is spent in worthwhile ways (are people getting tired of being bombarded by mailings, for instance?) and all sorts of other related topics. There hasn't been a really serious debate on all this since Measure 9 in 1994 and previous legislative debates on the topic.

    Next, as the legislative commission has debated, who sets the salaries? Should staff salaries be matched to comparable state employee salaries? Should people who live in Salem or close by get the same per diem as those who have to move to Salem during session?

    Should there be more strict rules about per diem only paid when legislators are at work or have an excused absence--no more per diem for rolling recesses or stunts like Kropf at KXL? Who would enforce it? Should leadership staff have set salaries if other staff do?

    And there has to be more of a connection established between legislators and ordinary citizens. The legislature needs to hold hearings in public and give citizens the opportunity to testify (maybe even before people who are in the building every day?). They need to communicate better with the general public (town halls where they actually answer questions, informative newsletters, etc. instead of acting like it is all a game).

    If there is strict accountability then of course legislators deserve to be paid for the level of work they do. But to ask for greater compensation after the 2005 session is to risk scorn by those who feel shut out by the process.

    And that is not just the view of those outside the building. A friend was a staffer in the 2005 session and had very strong feelings about this: "After the legislature has been going for a few months, the public could be rioting in the streets, or they could all pack up and leave, and the legislature would be so caught up in their games they wouldn't even notice".

    There was once an ad "we make money the old fashioned way, we EARN it!"

    Seems like that applies here. There are excellent indiv. legislators, but there was a problem with the legislature as an institution in 2005 losing the trust of the general public (esp. the House). Until that situation is remedied, it seems to me that no matter how justified, increasing legislative compensation isn't going to happen.

  • Robert Bole (unverified)

    There is at least one declared candidate for Senator Ringo's seat - Sam Chase.

    <h2>Sam is currently the Executive Director of the Community Development Network (CDN), an association of nonprofit affordable housing developers in the City, but also has been a leading voice in the state on issues of affordable housing and community development. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Coalition for a Livable Future, which is fighting to balance sustainable economic progress with livability and environmental protection.</h2>
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