Nike co-founder and Chairman Phil Knight frequently contributes to ballot measure campaigns and state-wide races—but it's unusual for Oregon's wealthiest man to jump into a legislative primary race.

State filings show that Knight this week gave $15,000 to Jennifer Williamson, a lawyer and lobbyist seeking to replace State Rep. Mary Nolan (D-Portland) in House District 36, which covers part of the city's west side. (Nolan is leaving the seat to run for City Council).

Williamson faces Sharon Meieran, an emergency room doctor, and Benjamin Barber, a computer programmer, in the Democratic primary.

Bruce Neal, a deli manager is the only Republican running in the district so far.

After Knight's gift, Meieran and Williamson now both have about $52,000 on hand. Williamson says her association with the Nike boss is personal rather than professional.

"He's a longtime family friend since before I was born," Williamson says. "He's always been really supportive of me."