Tobias Read Will Seek Democratic Nomination for Secretary of State

The state treasurer is the first to signal his candidacy for a seat that will be open next year.

Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read. (Brian Brose)

State Treasurer Tobias Read took the first step today toward running for secretary of state next year.

Read is updating the registration of his political action committee, shifting the office he is seeking from governor (he finished second in the 2022 Democratic primary behind now-Gov. Tina Kotek) to secretary of state.

A former state representative from Beaverton, Read won election as state treasurer in 2016 and won reelection in 2020. He is prohibited by term limits from running again for his current office.

The secretary of state’s position is an attractive option, except for the $77,000 salary (the same as Read’s current pay). In Oregon, unlike 43 other states, there is no elected lieutenant governor. Per the Oregon Constitution, the secretary of state automatically replaces the governor in the event the governor leaves office early. That happened in 2015, when former Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned amid an influence-peddling scandal and Secretary of State Kate Brown replaced him.

The job includes oversight of state elections and audits, the Corporation Division and the State Archives. With the advent of concerns about election security and integrity supercharged by former President Donald Trump, the secretary of state’s responsibility for elections has elevated the visibility and importance of the office over the past four years.

The job will be open next year because of former Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s resignation in early May amid another influence peddling scandal, first reported by WW.

Kotek appointed former Portland City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade to replace Fagan but Griffin-Valade is not expected to seek election to the office.

In a statement, Read said he’s updating his PAC now and will officially enter the race in September, when the candidate filing window opens. In addition to secretary of state, the offices of state treasurer and attorney general will also appear on the 2024 ballot. Read is the first current officerholder to announce for any of those positions.

“The office of secretary of state is very important to Oregonians, and it’s critical that we restore accountability in that office,” Read said. “As secretary of state, I will rebuild trust and give voters confidence that their public officials work for the people—and no one else. I’ve built a reputation for competently and professionally managing the state treasurer’s office. I’m looking forward to talking to voters in the coming weeks, and will have something more formal to announce in September.”

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