Kotek wins Oregon Democratic primary for governor

ina Kotek defeated Tobias Read and 13 other candidates in the May 17 Democratic primary for governor of Oregon. Incumbent Kate Brown (D) was term-limited and could not run for re-election.

The Associated Press’ Sarah Cline wrote: “Oregon hasn’t seen a GOP governor in 35 years. But political experts say Republicans have an opening for victory amid widespread discontent in the state and a possible split in votes among the majority parties as the unaffiliated Johnson makes a gubernatorial run in the fall.”

Kotek served as a member of the Oregon House of Representatives from 2007 to 2022, when she resigned to focus on her gubernatorial campaign. She also served as the State House Speaker from 2013 to 2022. Kotek ran 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 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 endorsed Kotek.

Read is the Oregon Treasurer, a position to which he was first elected in 2016. He ran 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 also said that homelessness and affordable housing were the state’s two biggest issues: “Oregon is facing a housing and homeless crisis. This didn’t occur overnight, but is a result of years of shortsighted policy and budget decisions. Covid19 and resulting economic challenges made the crisis more acute, but we would be facing this challenge without it.” AFT-Oregon, a state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, and former Gov. Barbara Roberts, who served from 1991 to 1995, endorsed Read.

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 also ran in the Democratic primary.

In the general election, Kotek will face former state Sen. Betsy Johnson, who is running as an unaffiliated candidate, and the Republican nominee. The Republican primary was uncalled at the time of this writing.