Rep. Jennifer Williamson Enters Oregon Secretary of State Race

Portland’s Rep. Jennifer Williamson is officially entering the race for Oregon secretary of state.Williamson, a Democrat, currently serves as the majority leader in the Oregon House of Representatives. She has been the representative for Oregon’s 36th district, which includes much of Northwest and Southwest Portland, since 2013.

In her time in office, Williamson has sponsored sweeping reproductive rights legislation, and worked on legislation to strengthen gun control, provide paid family leave protections, and reform Oregon’s juvenile criminal justice policies.

In a press release sent Wednesday announcing her candidacy, Williamson said her secretary of state platform will include protecting elections from foreign influence, increasing transparency in campaign finance, and combatting climate change by “building clean energy projects on our public lands.”

“We need a Secretary of State who will tenaciously protect our election process from foreign tampering,” Williamson said in the release. “I will make the cybersecurity of our election data and voter information my top priority.”

She will likely face fellow Democrats Sen. Mark Haas of Beaverton and attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner in the May 2020 primary election.

Oregon’s current Secretary of State Bev Clarno, a Republican, will not seek re-election—Clarno was appointed by Gov. Kate Brown after previous Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, also a Republican, died in February. No Republican candidates have registered political action committees with the state yet, so it’s unclear who the winner of the Democratic primary will be facing off against in the November 2020 general election.

Williamson has raised $56,000 in campaign donations so far this year; Haas has raised $35,000, and McLeod has raised $40,000.

Williamson, an attorney, recently faced scrutiny for championing a new law that will significantly limit Oregon’s use of the death penalty, with some lawmakers and district attorneys claiming she intentionally misled Oregonians about the intent of the bill. Williamson defended her support for the law in a September email to the Mercury.

“If you want to be an elected official—especially in this era of Trump’s Twitter Presidency—you have to have a thick skin,” Williamson wrote. “Right now, I guess everything is fair game in politics. … The stakes literally couldn’t be higher in this fight. I’m not backing down.”


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