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On May 19, Oregon voters will choose nominees for the fall’s race for Secretary of State, filling an open seat for the second consecutive statewide election. The Portland Tribune has more:
For the seventh time since World War II — but for the first time ever in back-to-back election cycles — the race for Oregon secretary of state is wide open.
Three Democrats and two Republicans seek their party nominations for the state’s second-ranking office in the May 19 primary.
Democrats are Shemia Fagan of Happy Valley and Mark Hass of Beaverton, both state senators, and Jamie McLeod-Skinner of Terrebonne, the party’s 2018 nominee for the 2nd District congressional seat.
Republicans are Kim Thatcher of Keizer, a state senator, and Dave Stauffer of Portland, an environmental inventor who lost primary bids for governor as a Democrat in 2016 and as a Republican in 2018.
Rich Vial of Scholls, a former Republican state representative and deputy secretary of state from April 2019 until Jan. 10, is making an independent bid for the office.
The winner this fall will succeed the incumbent, who was appointed to the position after her predecessor died last year:
All seek to succeed Republican Bev Clarno of Redmond, a former legislator appointed to the position when Republican Dennis Richardson died of cancer in 2019, midway through his term. Richardson himself won an open race in 2016 to succeed Democrat Jeanne Atkins, appointed by Democrat Kate Brown when Brown became governor in 2015 upon the resignation of John Kitzhaber.
Neither Clarno nor Atkins sought a full term, resulting in the unusual back-to-back open races.
Oregon’s Secretary of State position is unusual in that it is the second-ranking state post, making the officeholder first in line in case of a gubernatorial vacancy:
The secretary of state is Oregon’s chief elections officer — working with officials in the 36 counties — oversees audits of state agencies and other programs, and sits on the State Land Board with the governor and state treasurer.
The secretary of state also is first in line of succession to the governorship. Oregon is one of five states without a lieutenant governor.
Of 12 secretaries of state going back to Mark Hatfield more than 60 years ago, four have become governor — although Brown is the only one of the four who advanced without an election — and four more, including Richardson in 2014, ran for governor.
Unlike most other states, Oregon is not scrambling to shift its voting system to vote-by-mail in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, having pioneered the concept and run it for decades; however, just like any other state, it must grapple with paying for new technology and negotiating the relationship with its local governments. Therefore, the winner of this race will be an important player in managing the future of elections in the Beaver State. The vote ends on May 19 … stay tuned!