Kerry Tymchuk Accepts Statesman of the Year, Models Bipartisanship

Published Monday, September 17, 2018

Oregon Business & Industry (OBI) honored Oregon Historical Society Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk as Statesman of the Year at the 2018 Statesman Dinner Thursday night at the Oregon Convention Center. The annual event drew an audience of more than 500, including elected officials and business leaders.

In his acceptance speech Tymchuk thanked those who helped make possible a career that took him from the small Oregon coastal town of Reedsport to Washington, D.C., where he was a trusted advisor and speechwriter for U.S. Senators Bob Dole (R-Kansas) and Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) and Labor Secretary Elizabeth Dole. He has been executive director of the Historical Society since 2011.

Tymchuk told an anecdote about Senator Dole that fit a theme he and other speakers emphasized throughout the evening: the need for bipartisanship. When Dole was running for the Republican nomination to challenge President Bill Clinton, advisors told him that he would win the New Hampshire primary if he opposed U.S. involvement in the conflict in Bosnia. Instead, he and Senator John McCain, both veterans, supported Clinton’s decision to intervene. Dole went on to win the Republican nomination, although Pat Buchanan did beat Dole in the 1996 New Hampshire primary.

Dole chose to be bipartisan and do what he thought was best for the country even when it came at a short-term political cost to him, Tymchuk said.

Longtime friends Ginny Lang, interim CEO of OBI, and Jack Ohman, an editorial cartoonist with the Sacramento Bee and formerly with The Oregonian, praised Tymchuk for his bipartisanship, civility, humor and command of language. “Kerry is the Stephen Sondheim of Oregon politics,” Ohman said.

The Statesman of the Year award has been presented since 2001 and recognizes an Oregon leader for extraordinary achievements in public service, consensus building, and forging collaborative solutions to critical issues facing the state. The 2017 Statesman honoree was Sky Lakes Medical Center CEO Paul Stewart. Previous recipients include Phil and Penny Knight, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield, Portland Mayor Vera Katz, and Columbia Sportswear Chairman of the Board Gert Boyle.