Nik Blosser, a Portland General Electric vice president in charge of public policy, government affairs and communications, has decided to exit the company.
“Nik is leaving PGE as of Dec.r 31,” says PGE spokesperson Drew Hanson. “We wish him all the best.”
Blosser, 52, joined PGE after a stint as chief of staff in the Office of Cabinet Affairs in the Biden White House. From 2017 to 2020, he served as chief of staff to Gov. Kate Brown, leaving that job to work on the Biden-Harris transition team.
Blosser did not respond to a request for comment, but his departure from the utility after about 18 months coincides with the availability of two big political jobs: mayor of Portland (incumbent Ted Wheeler is not running for reelection) and U.S. representative for Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District (incumbent Earl Blumenauer will not seek a 15th term).
Although he hasn’t previously run for office, Blosser’s is likely to be fielding calls encouraging him to run for one or other of those positions.
Before joining Brown’s staff, Blosser founded and ran Celilo Media, the publisher of the Chinook Book. In 2009, he also co-founded the Oregon Business Association, a more progressive alternative to the longtime leading business lobbying group, Associated Oregon Industries (the groups merged in 2016). As a board member of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters and later president of the advocacy group Renew Oregon, Blosser helped push the Legislature toward aggressive green energy laws and the closure of the state’s last coal-fired generation plant. He’s also a board member of the pioneering Sokol-Blosser winery in Dayton, which his parents founded in 1971.
Blosser’s unusual mix of small business, environmental advocacy and high-level political experience put him on some wish lists for potential candidates even before he decided to leave PGE.
“He would be formidable candidate if he ever wanted to run for either office,” says one political strategist, speaking on background.
The field for mayor is still forming but includes Portland City Commissioner Mingus Mapps and will probably also include two of his colleagues, Commissioners Carmen Rubio and Rene Gonzalez. A credible outside candidate could lump all the current council candidates together as the status quo and present themself as a change agent. Similarly, the race for Blumenauer’s seat is wide open, with neither of the announced candidates, former Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal or Gresham City Councillor Eddy Morales, or their likely competitor, state Rep. Maxine Dexter (D-Portland), having a lock on the Democratic primary.
Blosser’s decision could also have an indirect impact on the 3rd District race: his wife, former Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, would have been well-positioned to replace Blumenauer, but she told The Oregonian last month she would not seek the nomination.
Now that Blosser is no longer tethered to PGE’s Portland headquarters, Washington, D.C. ,might seem more appealing. (Kafoury did not respond to a request for comment.)