Former House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson's Feb. 10 decision to abruptly withdraw from the Oregon secretary of state's race has provided a possible opening for another candidate to enter the Democratic primary.
The field remains crowded with contenders, including State Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton), former state agency director Cameron Smith, and Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who was the Democratic opponent in 2016 to U.S. Rep Greg Walden, Oregon's only Republican in Congress.
And yet labor unions are looking for a new candidate to back in the race, multiple sources tell WW.
Williamson has enjoyed close ties to labor unions in the state and expected their backing even as she led an Oregon House effort to cut retirement benefits for state employees last session—a move that was deeply unpopular with public employee unions.
Williamson withdrew from the race as WW prepared to publish a story on her campaign committee expenditures. Public employee unions, already shaky in their support, had made clear they would not finance her campaign after learning of the WW story.
Several possible candidates have had their names floated as a replacement for Williamson as the union candidate. Some of them tell WW they'll stay put in their current jobs: Oregon Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle, who ran four years ago for Secretary of State, and state Rep. Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis).
Others whose names have been floated—or even approached by labor—include Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, State Sen. Shemia Fagan (D-Portland) and former Sen. Richard Devlin (D-Lake Oswego), who ran for secretary of state four years ago and finished third in the Democratic primary.