State Rep. Dennis Richardson says he plans to hire Dave Dotterrer as his legislative assistant in January — if a recount confirms that Dotterrer did lose a close election to incumbent Sen. Alan Bates.

State Rep. Dennis Richardson says he plans to hire Dave Dotterrer as his legislative assistant in January — if a recount confirms that Dotterrer did lose a close election to incumbent Sen. Alan Bates.

"It's been an idea we've been kicking around for a couple of weeks," said Dotterrer, an Ashland Republican. "It's a Plan B."

Bates, D-Medford, led his opponent by 275 votes in results certified by the Secretary of State's Office. Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker expects to wrap up the recount by Wednesday.

Dotterrer said he would work with Richardson on budget issues, which he described as his passion.

"It doesn't matter if I go up there as a state senator or as legislative assistant," Dotterrer said. "It's an opportunity to work on something very important."

Dotterrer said he has confidence in the recount process, even though Senate Republican leaders have raised issues about the local count, including allegations that 322 ballots are missing.

With about half of the Senate District 3's 31 precincts recounted by Friday, only one vote had changed — to Bates' favor, Dotterrer said.

Dotterrer said he never had a lack of confidence in the way elections are run locally, and described the recount process as efficient and thorough.

He said he's started looking for a temporary residence in Salem, even before his salary has been determined.

"I would like to at least cover my expenses," he said.

Richardson, R-Central Point, said Dotterrer's expertise in budget issues will be invaluable as the Legislature finds itself facing large budget shortfalls.

"I feel strongly that we need Dave Dotterrer in Salem, if not as a senator, then in other important ways while Oregon is in this crisis," Richardson said. "The goal all along has been to help Oregon."

Dotterrer will be working with legislators in both the Senate and House caucuses, Richardson said.

While Dotterrer hasn't been officially hired yet, Richardson said he would start work in January.

Dotterrer's salary is still being discussed, Richardson said.

"I make $1,800 a month (as a legislator), and he will make a little more than me," he said.

Damian Mann is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. Reach him at 541-776-4476, or e-mail dmann@mailtribune.com.