With the billions of words being devoted to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, there’s likely not much I can add to your understanding of the two Democratic presidential contenders. But there are scores of terrific candidates running local races that matter.

The Progressive Democrats of America do a good job highlighting Congressional candidates worthy of progressive support. What this blog will attempt to do over the coming months is to feature worthy candidates you may not have heard about who are animated by a commitment to social and economic justice and who have a real chance to win a state race.

Up first is John Kroger, running hard in the Oregon Democratic primaries, in a contest that will determine the next state Attorney General. I was introduced to Kroger by a friend who knew him in college and law school and after doing some research I’m convinced that he’s someone most Nation readers would find well worth supporting.

These are what he cites as his five major priorities:

**Fight meth aggressively, with more effective enforcement and a new plan for drug treatment.

**Hold every polluter responsible for the damage they cause to our health and our environment.

**Ensure that every single parent in the state gets the child support to which they are entitled.

**Protect consumers and retirees from scam-artists and crooked companies.

**Defend civil rights, a woman’s right to choose, and the rights of Oregon crime victims.

His environmental agenda is especially strong focusing on targeting chronic corporate polluters and lobbying for stiffer penalties for environmental infractions. He wants to use the state’s criminal laws “to put the worst polluters in jail. That’s never been done in the state, and we’re going to do it.” He’s even threatened to partner with environmental organizations and take the federal government to court unless it curbs what he says is the Bush Administration’s reckless flouting of our nation’s environmental protection, endangered species, and forestry laws.

From everything I’ve read in the local press and blogs, the Oregon AG’s office has not been an aggressive or effective force for law enforcement under previous administrations. In fact, the office seems to have functioned as much as the corporate counsel for the State as an independent office that can bring lawsuits on behalf of the state’s people to accomplish important social ends. Kroger’s opponent, Greg McPherson, is squarely within this business-as-usual tradition. Kroger says he will bring the full weight of the office to bear on real things that matter to real people and will never be the tool of the local business class.

As my friend wrote me, “when I was a lawyer at Earthjustice in Florida, we partnered with the AG’s office in some of these cases [in which lawyers make the case that natural resources like rivers are public trusts, not privately commodities] and it made a world of difference to have the resources of a state office on our side. Thus, to the extent I can help support the creation of an AG office with that kind of vision in another state, I want to. John has set out some areas where he thinks the Oregon AG can be an important force for change, and as he’s been very successful in the courtroom in his career thus far, I just think he’s going to want to get in the courtroom and fight and win good battles.”

Click here to find out more about Kroger and here to help support his good battles.