By Julia Shumway, Oregon Capital Chronicle
Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam, one of the leading Republican candidates for governor, called the 2020 election “fraudulent” over the weekend and told the Oregon Capital Chronicle on Monday that he had doubts about the integrity of Oregon’s vote-by-mail system.
Pulliam shared on social media a short clip of himself speaking to the East Clackamas County Republican Women’s Club, where attendees applauded his declaration that the election was fraudulent.
“If your Republican candidate’s not gonna call a spade a spade, call it the fraudulent 2020 election in a primary when it’s easy, they’re never gonna do it as your next governor,” Pulliam continued.
Former President Donald Trump continues to insist there was widespread fraud in the presidential election, but more than five dozen post-election court cases and multiple ballot reviews produced no evidence to support him.
Pulliam told the Capital Chronicle he was referring to major changes in other states’ election processes ahead of the 2020 election. Because of the Covid pandemic, states led by both Republicans and Democrats expanded abilities to vote by mail or vote early in person.
Trump stoked fears about mail ballots ahead of the election. Following his loss, Republican state legislators around the country have proposed new limits on voting by mail.
“I just think as a result of it really being an unprecedented election during an unprecedented time in American history that we will never truly know who won the 2020 election,” Pulliam said. “And I believe that because of all the changing parts, that it was absolutely fraudulent.”
Oregon, which has voted entirely by mail since 2000, did not change election laws or policies because of the pandemic.
Pulliam said he still didn’t fully trust Oregon’s election system because Republican candidates haven’t performed as well since the state began running elections by mail.
Republicans haven’t won the governorship since 1982 or a U.S. Senate seat since 2002. Before Dennis Richardson was elected secretary of state in 2016, the last Republican to win a statewide office did so in 1994.
“I will say that I have major concerns when you look at how particularly Republican candidates have performed here in Oregon since the implementation of the vote-by-mail system,” Pulliam said.
He said the state should consider returning to in-person voting, though he’s not yet sure whether that would mean offering in-person voting as an option along with mail elections or entirely eliminating mailed ballots. In 1998, 70% of Oregon voters approved voting by mail after advocates first spent years trying to pass a law through the Legislature.
Pulliam said he wanted to ensure people are showing an ID when they vote, though that’s difficult to do with a mail ballot (some Republican-dominated states require voters to mail photocopies of their photo IDs with their ballots). Oregon requires voters to provide their ID and their signature when first registering to vote, and election officials subsequently verify signatures on ballot envelopes to ensure the right person cast a ballot.
Pulliam said he hasn’t personally spoken to the Clackamas County clerk or other election officials and has notwitnessed vote-counting or post-election audits, something allowed under Oregon law and that many local election officials have encouraged voters to do.
Denying the results of the 2020 election has been lucrative for some Republicans. The Arizona state senator leading a nationwide charge to somehow reverse the results raised a record-breaking $2.5 million for her re-election campaign.
Embracing Trump’s unfounded claims of an election conspiracy also raises the possibility of a Trump endorsement coveted by some Republicans.
Pulliam has raised $940,000, more than all but one Republican candidate, former House Minority Christine Drazan. The Republican from Canby eclipsed the $1 million mark last week and resigned from the Legislature on Monday.
The video Pulliam posted showed marketing consultant Brandon Merritt applauding his comments while Drazan, sitting between the two, looked on. Drazan was not available by deadline, but she has publicly rejected the election fraud claims, telling Willamette Week as recently as last week that President Joe Biden won the election and she was tired of discussing it.
A handful of Republican state legislators, including Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson, the Prineville Republican who replaced Drazan as head of the House GOP, have called for Arizona-style “audits” of the state’s 2020 election results. County clerks already audit each election.
Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Les Zaitz for questions: email@example.com. Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.