Former Senate leader to run for Secretary of State

State Sen. Kate Brown, credited for her role in helping Democrats take control of the state Senate in 2004, announced Thursday in Medford that she is running for Oregon secretary of state.

Known in Salem as a tenacious and skillful politician, Brown, who recently resigned as the Senate majority leader after nine years, pledged to make Oregon government more transparent and efficient.

"I am confident that the Legislature is moving forward for the first time in a couple of decades, so it's in a real good place, and I am ready for a new challenge," the Portland Democrat in an interview ahead of her four-city campaign kick-off tour on Thursday.

Brown, who authored legislation in 2005 that created an online database for campaign finance reporting, said she wants to make sure that the state's Elections Division is "fair to all the players involved."

Moreover, Brown, a juvenile-rights attorney, vowed to use her role as chief of the state's Audits Division to cut government waste and ensure that Oregon taxpayers' money is well spent.

"I want to be more aggressive," she said of launching performance audits of state agencies. "It is incumbent in the secretary of state to squeeze every dollar out so we get the most bang for our taxpayer bucks."

Brown will face fellow Democrats Sens. Vicki Walker of Eugene and Brad Avakian of Bethany in the May 2008 primary, which observers predict will be a bitter fight among the three progressives vying for the second most powerful post in state government.

Although the Republicans have announced no candidate yet, they promise to field one.

Brown, endorsed by former state Rep. Judy Uherbelau of Ashland, said having chaired the Senate Rules and Elections Committee uniquely qualifies her over other candidates to be the state's next chief elections officer.

In addition to administering elections and the auditing of state agencies, the secretary of state oversees also the corporations and archives divisions and serves on the State Land Board that oversees the Common School Fund, which directs interest earned from unclaimed assets to K-12 schools.

"I want to protect the environment and put more money in classrooms," she said.

The next secretary of state could also have a hand in redrawing the legislative boundaries if state lawmakers are not able to agree on a redistricting plan.

covers the state Legislature for the Ashland Daily Tidings. He can be reached at

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