The race for what will be a vacant secretary of state's office in 2016 is shaping up as next year's most competitive statewide contest.

Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian has told numerous people this week that he will enter the Democratic primary.

That decision will likely pit him against state Rep. Val Hoyle (D-Eugene), who earlier stepped down from her post as House Minority Leader to run for secretary of state, and state Sen. Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin), who has told WW that he'll very likely run for the office.

Avakian's campaign consultant did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

His entry into the race, which he foreshadowed earlier this year with aggressive fundraising, creates an interesting dynamic.

Avakian has been on the ballot many times, winning election to a Beaverton seat in the Oregon House in 2002 and moving up to the Senate in 2006. In 2008, he entered the secretary of state's primary but withdrew when then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski named him Labor Commissioner. He's run for that office three times since then and also in a special election for Congress in 2011. 

Assuming Devlin also enters the race, Devlin will enjoy the luxury of running in the middle of a Senate term and the leverage of being the co-chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee, which writes the state's budget. That position means contributors who have legislative interests will be taking a risk if they don't support Devlin.

Avakian, who has aggressively pursued civil rights cases and veterans' rights as labor commissioner, is also running midterm, which means he keeps his current job if loses.

Hoyle is taking a bigger risk than her likely opponents. Since House terms are only two years long, she must give up her seat to run for secretary of state. She would benefit, however, from being the only woman in the race, and could further benefit from Avakian and Devlin having similar Washington County bases of support.