Fifteen candidates are running in the May 17 Democratic primary for Governor of Oregon. Incumbent Kate Brown (D) is term-limited and cannot run for re-election.
Tina Kotek and Tobias Read have led in fundraising and noteworthy endorsements.
Read is the Oregon treasurer, a position to which he was first elected in 2016. He has run on enacting policies to curb gun violence, investing in K-12 schools, and lowering childcare costs. Read said, “We need to stop lurching from one crisis to the next and lay out a vision for where to take Oregon. Not just for next year, but for the next generation. My approach is simple: I’ll measure Oregon’s progress by how well our kids are doing.” Read has also focused on boosting Oregon’s COVID-19 vaccination numbers, saying “I think we need steady leadership in Oregon to get past this pandemic and get us on the trajectory that we want to be on. Of course, that requires getting as many people vaccinated as possible and removing that as a barrier.” AFT-Oregon, a state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, and former Gov. Barbara Roberts, who served from 1991 to 1995, have endorsed Read.
Kotek served as a member of the Oregon House of Representatives from 2007 to 2022, when she resigned to run for governor. She also served as the state house speaker from 2013 to 2022. Kotek has run on reforming zoning laws to make housing more affordable, increasing the minimum wage, and funding schools. She said, “Oregonians are living through a devastating pandemic, the intensifying impacts of climate change, and the economic disruptions that leave too many behind. We must get past the politics of division and focus on making real, meaningful progress for families across our state.” Kotek has said her time in the legislature shows that she knows how government works: “With new legislative leadership in 2023, it will be helpful to have a governor who has been in the Legislature and has been in their positions. There is going to be change, but I hope there is continuity provided by a governor who understands what it means to be a legislative leader.” The Oregon Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, and EMILY’s List have endorsed Kotek.
David Beem, Julian Bell, Wilson Bright, George Carrillo, Michael Cross, Ifeanyichukwu Diru, Peter Hall, Keisha Merchant, Patrick Starnes, Dave Stauffer, John Sweeney, Michael Trimble, Genevieve Wilson are also running in this election.
Including Brown, Oregon’s last five governors have been Democrats. The state’s last Republican governor, Victor G. Atiyeh, served from 1979 to 1987.