Is Tina Kotek Too Close to Public Employee Unions? She and Tobias Read Answer the Question.

The two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination for governor served together in the House for 10 years.

From 2007 to 2017, then-House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) and now-State Treasurer Tobias Read served side by side in the Oregon House. Now they are competing for the Democratic nomination for governor.

In a recent endorsement interview, WW asked them whether Kotek was too close to public employee unions that are such a dominant force in Democratic politics. (Two of the the big three, Service Employees International Union and the Oregon Education Association, have endorsed Kotek; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has not endorsed a candidate.)

Read, who served in House leadership with Kotek, offered his opinion. “I perceived it to to be a close relationship,” he said, adding that one of the requirements to be successful as governor is to be able to tell allies things they don’t want to hear. “I wish there were more examples of that from the former speaker,” Read said.

For her part, Kotek dismissed the premise of the question. “My track record is about standing up for working folks, and I’ll never apologize for that,” she said.

In the video below, Kotek explains why the results of state programs to deal with Oregon’s problems often do not reflect the investment of taxpayer dollars in them.