Tiernan confident in packed governor’s race | News
Bob Tiernan is confident that Oregon is ready for a change in the governor’s mansion. As a Republican candidate, he thinks voters are ready to elect a Republican, but not just any Republican.
“This is the year that someone who can do something will win,” said Tiernan after visiting Brookings and Coos Bay during a stopover along the south coast. “I think a Republican can win. I don’t think that’s the etiquette so much on you. I think if you can show that I have the experience and the skills to get things done, that’s is what will count.”
And Tiernan believes she has the experience, skills and history of success that will give her an edge.
Tiernan has a ton of experience, both in business and politics. After growing up in Southern California and earning a master’s degree in law from Georgetown, Tiernan began a career in law but soon found he didn’t like it. So he turned to business.
He was hired as interim president of Grocery Outlet when the chain was struggling to survive, and in those 90 days he turned the company around. He was offered and accepted a four-year contract as company president, during which the company built 30 new stores and set all-time sales records.
He then held the same position at another grocery store chain, before returning to law. During all of this, Tiernan served 28 years in the navy as a special intelligence officer, retiring as a commander.
In the 1990s, he ventured into politics, serving in the Legislative Assembly from 1992 to 1997. He also served as chairman of the state’s Republican party.
“I’ve been effective,” Tiernan said, pointing to a number of public safety laws he spearheaded. “I helped make Oregon a safer place. It was my passion.”
Through it all, Tiernan said he earned a reputation as a problem solver. In politics, he said it was essential to have someone who could solve problems.
“I’ve been very successful in business. What I do in business is I solve problems,” Tiernan said. “In the Navy, I was on 17 missions to every corner of the Earth. In the Army, you take these special missions and you don’t scratch your head saying I can’t solve this problem. You solve problems. We have an opportunity this year to appoint someone who can solve problems. Our number 1 problem is that we don’t have leadership. We have a lot of self-appointed leaders and that’s not what makes you a leader.
Years after fighting for criminal justice reform in the Legislative Assembly, Tiernan said he remains passionate about the issue. He said Oregonians no longer felt safe and it was high time the state did something about it.
“Our criminal justice system has fundamentally collapsed,” he said. “We let 1,400 people out of correctional facilities, criminals. Portland has turned into a mess with lawlessness. In this neighborhood they had 167 shootings last year. It’s spreading. It’s spreading everywhere, and no one is doing anything about it. It didn’t happen yesterday, it didn’t happen last month or last year. We have these issues that are unresolved. I think we have the wrong people in the office.
As the field for both parties was crowded in the gubernatorial race, Tiernan said he was the only person with the political, business and service experience to do the job well.
“I think I’m different from other people,” he said. “You have to have the experience to know what it takes to solve a big problem and solve it quickly. That’s how you solve problems. The problems we have now, lawlessness, crime, no enough cops, letting people out of jail, this can all be solved I’ve done it before.
Another big issue Tiernan is eager to address is one that impacts every corner of the state – homelessness.
“Homelessness is totally solvable,” said Tiernan. “Yet no one takes the lead and makes the tough decisions.”
While Tiernan acknowledges that Oregon is a tough place for Republicans to win, he said the right GOP member can win. But this person must be a leader and a problem solver.
“I think Portland Democrats will elect anyone who can solve their problems,” Tiernan said. “Anyone who can execute and get the job done is going to be really appealing. I don’t think they’re going to look at the label, they’re going to look at the person. I think the D’s just got it.”
Tiernan acknowledged that the road will be difficult, especially in the crowded primary field. But he said he was happy to take up the challenge.
“As party chairman, I’m a big believer if you want to run, run,” he said. “We have a lot of candidates. There are four, maybe five prominent people who have money and are campaigning. Right now there is a huge undecided vote. It’s probably the election of anyone. I think in the next five, six weeks, one or two will break out.”
Tiernan admitted he was not eager to get back into politics, but with the state in crisis, he chose to step up.
“If there was someone very talented running for Republicans, I wouldn’t have run,” he said. “We have the opportunity to have a changing of the guard. I think Oregon is slipping into the abyss and they need a course correction.”
With the May election approaching, Tiernan said he was ready to work to get his message across to voters.
“People are different in different parts of Oregon,” Tiernan said. “They have different needs and wants. I want to bring Oregon back to where everyone watches over everyone else. A problem in Brookings should be a problem in Coos Bay. A problem in Coos Bay should be a problem in Salem. .”