Endorsements: State Races

Governor, BOLI and Legislature


Democratic Primary


Tina Kotek. Photo by Todd Cooper.


David Beem, Julian Bell, Wilson Bright, George Carrillo, Michael Cross, Ifeanyichukwu Diru, Peter Hall, Tina Kotek, Keisha Merchant, Tobias Read, John Sweeney, Patrick Starnes, Dave Stauffer, Michael Trimble, Genevieve Wilson

Is there anyone left in Oregon politics who’s not running for governor? Despite the wide array of talent and political perspectives in this year’s lengthy list of candidates, the choice for us is clear: Tina Kotek. Oregon’s former speaker of the House has the best ideas and strongest record of getting things done of any of the other contenders. Kotek is smart, she’s competent and she has the charm of your cool lesbian aunt compared to the rest of the candidate pool. As speaker since 2013, she’s got the legislative contacts and experience to help bring about solutions to the state’s biggest problems, from homelessness and the pandemic to climate change, and she has good ideas to push forward.

Meanwhile, with The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof disqualified from the race, Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read tells EW that he’s the political “outsider” of the Democratic Party gubernatorial race. Although he’s a member of the state’s executive branch, he says he’s in a different political realm than Kotek and the rest of the Legislature. We’re not sure about that rationale, but his campaign finances do make him look like a Democratic Party outsider. He’s received numerous donations from out-of-state financiers and sizable donations from natural resource extraction companies, such as $10,000 from Hampton Lumber, $2,000 from Natural Gas PAC and $5,000 from Lone Rock Timber Company.

Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries (nonpartisan)

Aaron Baca, Brent Barker, Cheri Helt, Chris Henry, Casey Kulla, Robert Neuman, Christina Stephenson

Labor commissioner is one of those elected positions that may not sound like much to the average voter, but it matters more than you think. And Oregon is one of only a few states that elects a labor commissioner in a nonpartisan race. The Bureau of Labor and Industries is where you go if you think your boss is committing wage theft — failing to give workers the wages and benefits they are legally entitled to. It’s also the folks who protect your civil rights at work or while patronizing a business. And for those entering the workforce, BOLI supports apprenticeship programs. As a nonpartisan position, the winner of this race could basically be decided in the primary.

We enjoyed talking to Casey Kulla, the Yamhill County commissioner, farmer and ecologist who dropped out of the governor’s race to seek the BOLI seat. He’s got a passion and energy that will take him places in Oregon politics, but for labor commissioner, we are going with civil rights and employment lawyer Christina Stephenson. She’s got the endorsements of the last five Oregon labor commissioners — four Democrats and one Republican — and the overwhelming backing of the Oregon labor movement. She’s politically savvy and strong on workers’ and civil rights.


State Senate

4th District

Floyd Prozanski (unopposed)

6th District

Ashley Pelton (unopposed)

7th District

James Manning Jr. (unopposed)

James Manning is running unopposed in the Democratic Primary and will face off in the fall against Republican Raquel Ivie, who is running in her primary unopposed as well. Manning and his staff still mourn his wife Lawanda Manning, who died in 2021. But even without her tireless work on his legislative staff, a call to Manning’s office from his constituents gets things done.

State House

7th District

John Lively (unopposed)

8th District

Paul Holvey (unopposed)

9th District

No Democrat filed to run against Republican Boomer Wright


Michelle Emmons. Photo by Todd Cooper.

12th District

Michelle Emmons

Michelle Emmons is the lone Democrat running in a seat without an incumbent. An Oakridge resident, Emmons says the community has not had someone in the Legislature in a long time. In addition to her work with Willamette Riverkeeper and experience as a small business owner in Oakridge, she could represent its rural residents well while protecting the environment that makes the area a tourist attraction.

There are four Republicans in the Republican primary, and the rational choice in this Republican-leaning district is Cottage Grove Mayor Jeff Gowing.

13th District

Nancy Nathanson (unopposed)

14th District

Julie Fahey (unopposed)