State Rep. Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland) announced her plans today to resign her seat in legislature to focus full-time on her campaign for secretary of state.

Williamson is a former House majority leader, the second most powerful position in the chamber. In the 2019 session, she served as chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, vice-chair of House Judiciary and as member of the budget-setting Ways and Means Committee. Her abrupt departure deprives Democrats of one of their most experienced members as they prepare for the 2020 session.

One of Williamson's opponents in the 2020 Democratic secretary of state primary, state Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton), is also a longtime lawmaker.

Hass tells WW he'll serve out his term.

"My highest priority is getting the carbon bill passed in February," he says.  "Fundraising will have to take a back seat to that."

(House rules prohibit members from accepting campaign contributions while the Legislature is in session. Senate rules do not.)

In a statement, Williamson cited the importance of the secretary of state's job in safe-guarding elections while announcing her decision.

"Every day we're learning about serious threats to our free and fair election system," she says in a statement. "It's clear that nothing is more important right now than safeguarding our democracy."

"In the next few months, I'll be meeting people throughout Oregon to hear their ideas and share my plans for protecting and expanding our democracy," she says.

Her resignation will be effective Dec. 30.

The impact of her decision will be that the next legislator from her district will be decided not by a election, but rather a vote of Multnomah County Democratic Party officials.

A primary will still be held in the spring, but such an appointment will mean the winner of that process will have the advantage of being an incumbent.