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Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
by NWV Staff
August 21, 2006

"This is turning out to be the most astonishing Oregon gubernatorial race we've ever seen," said KATU-TV's political analyst Tim Hibbetts. And it appears Hibbetts is right.

Adding to the drama of a heated gubernatorial race, a former Republican lawmaker in Oregon filed a state elections complaint on Friday night seeking to knock off third-party gubernatorial candidate, Mary Starrett, from the November 2006 ballot. Kelly Clark, a practicing attorney, filed his complaint claiming that her nomination process was legally flawed.

Starrett, a former TV talk show host, news anchor, and anti-abortion activist, will appear on the fall ballot as the Constitution Party's nominee for governor. The popular conservative is expected to score big with Oregon's conservatives and independent voters.

Many within the state's GOP are frightened that Starrett will siphon off votes from the liberal Republican candidate, Ron Saxton, thus helping incumbent Democrat Gov. Ted Kulongoski to remain in office. What seems to frighten them even more is a Starrett win, which will turn the spotlight on the GOP's attempts to fool voters into believing they are the party of the conservative movement.

Clark claims the Constitution Party violated state election law by failing to file a notice in a newspaper announcing the party's June 3 nominating convention in which Starrett was selected by delegates to be their gubernatorial nominee.

''We searched every major newspaper, and we could not find any indication that they publicized a notice of their convention,'' Clark said in an interview with AP Friday night.

''If we are right, and the party didn't follow proper process, then Mary Starrett doesn't belong on the ballot'' he said.

Bob Ekstrom, Chairman of the Oregon Constitution Party, said in an interview with, "This is a cheap shot attempt to remove our candidate from the ballot. Two years ago, our political opponents tried the same tactic. An attempt to silence Mary Starrett is a telling sign that Ron Saxton knows he cannot win a fair election."

Ekstrom tells, "The Secretary of State has validated our nominating process in the past, and we are confident they will do the same now."

The politically savvy Ekstrom characterizes the Saxton campaign as reenacting the Tanya Harding saga � with Starrett as Olympic skater Nancy Kerrrigan � while Kelly Clark plays the goon!

If Mary Starrett is at all worried about being booted off the ballot this November, she isn't showing it. If anything, she says, she's flattered that the GOP fears her candidacy.

''It is kind of sad - it is kind of desperate,'' she said. ''You have a losing campaign, a losing candidate who has tried to pass himself off as conservative, and people ain't buying it. Apparently, we have the Saxton campaign running scared, which is eminently flattering. Kelly Clark would have no reason to do this, other than that he is carrying water for the Saxton campaign.''

But Felix Schein, a spokesperson for Saxton, told AP that the campaign had nothing to do with Clark's complaint. ''Neither our campaign, nor Ron has ever had a discussion about this with Kelly Clark,'' Schein said. ''In fact, we dismissed the possibility of pursuing such a complaint."

Jack Brown, the vice chairman of the Oregon Constitution Party, maintains that his party had sent postcards to all the members in the counties where they were organized, and had newspapers with the widest circulations in all of those counties publish notices.

Brown said the complaint was politically motivated, an opinion shared by Jim Ross, Gov. Kulongoski's campaign manager.

''I think the fact that this is being pushed by such a prominent Republican shows that those around the Republican nominee for governor, Ron Saxton, are very concerned about Mary Starrett," Ross said.

''The courage of her convictions on the issues that matter most to Republicans are very likely to give Ron Saxton problems if she is on the ballot. And I am certain they would like to avoid that if at all possible,'' he told

The complaint urges the secretary of state's office to remove Starrett's name from the ballot by Wednesday, August 23. If that request is denied, then Clark says a lawsuit will be filed in Marion County Circuit Court to remove Starrett's name from the ballot.

One of the editors, Paul Walter, who lives in Oregon and closely follows Oregon politics, says he believes the fix is in. "If the secretary of state refuses to comply with Clark's request and the case goes to court, some black-robed lawyer just may rule in Clark's and Saxton's favor."

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Clark claims the complaint was not filed in coordination with the Saxton campaign or Oregon Republican Party. But he conceded that he filed the complaint on behalf of some of Saxton's supporters.

Ekstrom said that the Oregon GOP is trying to punish Starrett for their own mistake. "The Republicans chose the wrong candidate for governor -- and they know it! They picked a pro-abortion, big-government-loving, counterfeit conservative (RINO). Oregonians are beginning to figure it out."

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The former TV news anchor and radio talk show host points to Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution, which prohibits the President from calling up a state's National Guard.