SALEM, Ore. – A developmentally disabled Salem resident who has befriended top political leaders over the years has become the first person to formally enter Oregon’s 2006 gubernatorial race.
David Beem, 53, filed to run as a Republican.
Other likely contenders for the Republican nomination include former candidate Kevin Mannix, an ex-lawmaker and former state GOP chairman, and Ron Saxton, a Portland attorney.
Beem is known as a friend of former Gov. Bob Straub and a frequent lunch companion of former Salem Mayor Mike Swaim. Beem has also served on a series of volunteer panels, where he shares the perspectives of people with disabilities.
“Everybody said I can’t do this job,” Beem told the Statesman Journal of Salem. “I’m a serious candidate. I want to show people you got to respect everybody in this state. Nobody’s perfect.”
Swaim said he always comes away from meetings with Beem with new insight.
“I have a lot of respect for David. He’s got a really inspiring story,” Swaim said. “He’s learning to survive. He’s participated in the political process. He’s organized people for various activities. He’s a very persistent guy.”
Beem has run for Salem City Council several times. He has volunteered in numerous campaigns for Democrats and for Republicans.
Beem said he favors Republicans because they’re tough on crime and because Democrats haven’t done much to support people with disabilities.
But Marion County Elections records show he’s a registered Democrat.
He’ll have to switch his party registration by Sept. 8 to be legally eligible to run in the GOP primary.