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The importance of Oregon’s SOS

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Since Oregon became a State three Secretaries of State have ascended to Governor when the sitting Governor resigned (1877, 1909 and 2015).

We may be looking at another ascension of the Secretary of State to Governor if Hillary Clinton is elected President.

There’s been speculation in Salem that a President Clinton could tap Governor Kate Brown for a position in her administration. Brown seems a natural fit. She was an early supporter of Hillary. While most Democratic voters were favoring Sanders she came out as a Clinton super delegate.

Like Hillary Clinton, she is wonkish and policy driven. And like Bill Clinton she is one of the most affable and likable pols you will meet. You’ll find few Republicans who actually dislike the Governor. Both Hillary and Bill Clinton will appreciate this balance.

Her trajectory and ambition are similar to Hillary’s. From a USA today profile published the week after she became Governor, former Oregonian cartoonist and grade school classmate Jack Ohman described Brown:

She made friends easily, was an athlete in high school, made good grades and ran for student council, he (Ohman) said.

They met in seventh-grade math class, back when she sported a ‘Nixon Now’ button ….Brown was a smart, middle-class kid from a small town outside Minnesota’s Twin Cities.

Not exactly an ambitious middle class Illinois Goldwater girl, but close. She is an ideal candidate for a high ranking Clinton administration official.

The latest iCitizen poll showed Democrat Brad Avakian with 29%, Republican Dennis Richardson with 26% and 36% undecided. Should Richardson win, Brown may have to decide between a job in Washington DC with the administration of the first woman President, or staying in Oregon to assure Democratic dominance.

The Secretary of State candidates recognize this. They are already running as if they may be governor. A quote from Avakian as reported by the Bend Bulletin: “When folks evaluate who should be their next secretary of state, you should think in terms of that in case it were to happen,” Avakian said of the prospect. “Where do the candidates stand on other positions that you would like to see or not like to see as governor?”

Her decision on whether to accept a DC position could be influenced by the fate of Measure 97, the large tax increase on the November ballot.

Should M97 pass, then Legislative Democrats are going to be calling most of the financial shots in any event regardless of who the Governor is. Brown may feel Oregon Democratic priorities are safe.

However, should M97 fail, then a Republican Governor Richardson would veto any revenue increase or tax reforms that don’t include Republican priorities on issues such as PERS reforms.

Supporters of M97 need to prepare for potential downsides and mitigation should the measure lose. As of today, Avakian has $478,000 in his campaign chest while Richardson has $602,000. A pretty even money race.

What this means is that an ambitious and talented Governor Browns and the powerful backers of M97 (Public employee unions) have an intense interest in the outcome of the Secretary of State race.

While Richardson may have a money edge in his official campaign account, should the Secretary of State race remain tight and the Governors race against Dr. Pierce to remain safely Browns (she currently leads by 12 percentage points), voters can expect to be inundated with negative “independent expenditure” negative ads aimed at Richardson.

Because is the Secretary of State race isn’t just about Richardson v. Avakian. There’s much more at stake for our Governor and the public employee unions who fund the Democratic Party.

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