State Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton), is strongly considering a run for secretary of state in 2020.
Hass is best known in Salem for pushing to reform the state's tax system, which is heavily skewed toward personal income taxes. In the recently completed session, lawmakers passed the Student Success Act, a multi-billion dollar corporate activities tax that will supply a new source of revenue for schools and should reduce the volatility of tax revenues.
"It was a hard bill to get through," Hass says.
Having achieved a goal that has eluded him and his colleagues for more than a decade, Hass is now turning his eyes to higher office, rather than seeking re-election next year.
"I've been encouraged by a lot of people to run for secretary of state and I'm preparing to do it," Hass says.
That office is currently held by Secretary of State Bev Clarno, a Republican. Gov. Kate Brown named Clarno to the position earlier this year after Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, who won election in 2016, died of brain cancer. Brown appointed Clarno to serve out Richardson's term on the premise that Clarno, a retired former state senator and House speaker, would not seek reelection.
Given Democrats' 10 percentage point voter-registration advantage over Republicans, there's a good chance the next secretary of state will be a Democrat.
A lot of candidates are considering the race.
Last week, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a Democrat from Terrebone, told the Bend Bulletin she's running for the office. McLeod-Skinner ran against U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-.Ore.) in 2018. She got 39 percent of the vote in the general election, the best showing ever by an opponent of Walden's.
Other Democrats considering the race including state Rep. Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis), state Rep. Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland) and Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson. Former state Rep. Richard Vial (R-Hillsboro) who now works for Clarno, is the most frequently mentioned potential GOP candidate.
Hass, 62, worked as a news reporter for KATU-TV for 20 years. He first won election to the House in 2000 and moved up to the Senate in 2007. He's the longtime chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue and co-chairs the Joint Committee on tax credits. When the Legislature is not in session, he works in the Portland office of Capellli Miles, an advertising firm.
"The secretary of state runs an essential agency," Hass says. "The office needs somebody who understands government and has a track record of getting difficult things done."