Secretary of State candidates debate public trust, election integrity

Attendees gather to listen as secretary of state candidates debate in October 2019.

Two Democratic state senators were virtually tied in their bid to be their party’s candidate for secretary of state, the second-highest state office in Oregon.

Sens. Shemia Fagan, of Portland; and Mark Hass, of Beaverton, were ahead of Jamie McLeod-Skinner, of Terrebonne, who ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, in 2018 as the Democratic candidate.

State Sen. Kim Thatcher appeared headed to an easy win to be the GOP candidate for secretary of state.

All seek to succeed Republican Bev Clarno, of Redmond, a former legislator appointed to the position when Republican Dennis Richardson died of cancer in 2019, midway through his term.

The secretary of state is Oregon’s chief elections officer — working with officials in the 36 counties — who oversees audits of state agencies and other programs and sits on the State Land Board with the governor and state treasurer. The secretary of state also is first in line of succession to the governorship. Oregon is one of five states without a lieutenant governor.

It's the seventh time since World War II — and the first time ever in back-to-back election cycles — the race for Oregon secretary of state is wide open.

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