Thinking of running for office in Oregon in 2022?  

You’ve got approximately five more hours, give or take, to make that call. 

The deadline to file notice of your intent to run with the Secretary of State’s office is Tuesday at 5 pm—and if you’re thinking of entering one of the state’s marquee races for 2022, be it the governor’s race or the new 6th district congressional seat, you’ll find plenty of company. 

For example, in the governor’s race, there are now a whopping 33 candidates and counting—nearly three times as many as at any point in the last forty years. 

Why so many candidates? It is the first time in two decades that there’s been no incumbent in the race, and the state is in flux after two years of pandemic-era stops and starts. While Democrats have been comfortably in control of nearly all statewide offices for years, the national political climate is tilting toward Republicans, making it a good year to take a flier on a run for office. (Case in point: the influential race trackers at the Cook Political Report rate Oregon’s race as “Likely D”—not “Solid D.”) 

The key candidates in the gubernatorial race include Democrat Tina Kotek, the very progressive former Speaker of the Oregon House, and State Treasurer Tobias Read, who recently announced an endorsement from former Gov. Barbara Roberts, Democrat-turned-Independent Betsy Johnson, an influential and well-connected former state Senator, and all manner of Republicans, in a field that’s still shaking itself out. Keep an eye on former statewide gubernatorial nominee Bud Pierce, former House Minority Leader Christine Drazan and Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam, who has been in the news for both his sexual history and his stance against COVID restrictions.  

The other most crowded race in the cycle is for the state’s newest congressional seat, which will cover Polk and Yamhill Counties, as well as portions of Marion, Clackamas and Washington Counties. So far, the race has drawn 16 candidates, including several sitting state representatives in Democrats Andrea Salinas and Teresa Alonso Leon and Republican Ron Noble, as well as former Congressman Jim Bunn, a late entry to the race looking to make a return to DC (he served one term in Congress in the mid-90s, during which time he got a divorce, married an aide and gave her a big raise, which contributed to his eventual defeat.) 

A few other notable races: 

  • Incumbent Democrat Kurt Schrader, who has been at odds with his party over everything from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (he voted against it) to stimulus checks in the wake of the pandemic (voted against those too), has drawn a primary challenger in Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a frequent candidate for higher office who is trying to channel progressive anger against Schrader and has been racking up endorsements from the likes of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. 
  • We’re watching closely to see if there are any last minute, notable challengers to Portland City Commissioner Dan Ryan, who has been at the center of the city’s debate over houselessness policy. One of his most credible opponents, current state Rep. Akasha Lawrence-Spence, withdrew from the race; he is facing a challenge from AJ McCreary, who runs a social justice and equity focused nonprofit and is a newcomer to politics.  
  • Pay attention to the race to replace Val Hoyle (who is the frontrunner for Rep. Peter DeFazio’s seat, given his retirement) as the state’s Labor Commissioner. The nonpartisan race has drawn two candidates who are both likely to get support from unions, who maintain a particular interest in this office: Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla and labor lawyer Christina Stephenson, who had previously run unsuccessfully for an Oregon House seat. Will they split the labor endorsements—and donations? 
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