Brad Avakian led the most aggressive and partisan Bureau of Labor and Industries this state has seen in recent memory.

He is not seeking reelection, and the race to replace him is shaping up to be just as aggressive and partisan.

It has also turned surprisingly nasty. Here's what you need to know.

Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian (Adam Wickham)
Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian (Adam Wickham)

1. Avakian was widely praised for cracking down on exploitation of underage dancers at strip clubs. But his most prominent case placed him in the center of American culture wars. He made national headlines in 2013, when his office levied a $135,000 fine on Gresham bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa, after the owners refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.

Val Hoyle
Val Hoyle

2. Val Hoyle, a Democrat and former state representative from Eugene, is running for the seat (which pays $77,000 a year) against Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden, a Republican. The contest is getting ugly. Hoyle supporters posted a Facebook page called "Lou Ogden: Unacceptable," questioning the mayor's judgment because he once allowed a tenant to live in his home for 18 months who was eventually arrested for possessing child pornography. Ogden calls the attack an embarrassing and dirty campaign tactic. Hoyle says she knew her supporters created the page, but she was not involved in the effort.

Lou Ogden
Lou Ogden

3. Hoyle has sought statewide office before—and she says if Ogden had done so, he'd have a thicker skin about the Facebook page. "Listen Lou, this may be your first tough race, but the fact of the matter is, if on the first page of Google you have a whole bunch of stuff going on, people are going to talk about it," Hoyle said after Ogden mentioned the attack during a WW endorsement interview. Last time she tried for higher office, Hoyle ran against Avakian for Secretary of State in 2016. She lost to Avakian—then he lost to Republican Dennis Richardson.

4. Ogden contrasts himself to Hoyle by noting he has never before run for a partisan seat. (Mayors aren't required to declare political parties.) "People don't want legislative insiders—there's a word for it, I think it's called 'hack'," Ogden said in the same endorsement interview. "People want something different, particularly in a regulatory body. particularly in a nonpartisan regulatory body."

5. Hoyle's campaign has $325,985 on hand, compared to Ogden's $73,353. Ogden has support from the Oregon Small Business Association and Family Farm political action committees, as well as a number of prominent Republicans like U.S. Rep. Greg Walden. Hoyle's endorsements come mostly from labor unions and Democrats.

6. There's a third candidate registered for this race – but he hasn't raised any money or responded to any inquiries from WW. Jack Howard's website says he would fight for the "underdog."