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State Treasurer Tobias Read Officially Enters Democratic Primary for Governor

The former Beaverton lawmaker will stake out the center among those seeking to replace Gov. Kate Brown.

State Treasurer Tobias Read today announced he is entering the Democratic primary for governor.

Read, 46, is in the middle of his second term as the state’s top financial official and is prohibited by term limits from seeking reelection in 2024 to that office.

“I’m running for governor because I believe it’s going to take steady leadership to help us move beyond this pandemic and start building a better future,” Read said in his campaign announcement. “We need to stop lurching from one crisis to the next and lay out a vision for where to take Oregon. Not just for next year, but for the next generation. My approach is simple: I’ll measure Oregon’s progress by how well our kids are doing.”

In a nod to the COVID-19 pandemic, Read launched his campaign via a brief video.

As treasurer, Read earned a reputation as steady and business-friendly. At times, he’s also been an ally of public employee unions. He’s made few enemies, but his generally moderate positions mean he’s unlikely to be the favorite of major Democratic party players in the primary. His hope for winning may be as the compromise candidate to whom no one will object.

Though he is just entering the race, Read sent early and strong signals he would be a contender. He’s already raised nearly $350,000 this year, prior to his announcement (that’s more than twice what any other Democratic candidate has raised). Through early-career work at the U.S. Treasury, 15 years at Nike, and five years in his current job, Read has built a strong fundraising network.

Prior to winning election as treasurer in 2016, Read served five terms in the Oregon House, representing Beaverton and parts of Washington County. He’s graduated from Willamette University and earned an MBA from the University of Washington.

As treasurer, he serves as the state’s banker, overseeing debt issuance, maintaining the state’s credit rating, and managing the staff responsible for investing state monies and pension funds. He also serves as a member of the Oregon Investment Council, the policy board that makes strategic decisions about how those funds are invested.

Read also serves with the governor and secretary of state on the State Land Board and directs the state’s college savings retirement plan. His biggest achievement as treasurer was implementation of OregonSaves, which established retirement savings programs for workers whose employers don’t offer that benefit. The program is now serving 100,000 Oregonians who have saved $130 million.

Read joins House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) as well as Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla and Brownsville cabinetmaker Patrick Starnes in the race. Incumbent Gov. Kate Brown cannot run again because of term limits.

Democrats are still waiting to hear whether and when New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum will enter the field. (Disclosure: Rosenblum is married to Richard Meeker, the co-owner of WW’s parent company.)