Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken was always going to be a very long shot for governor. Leiken, a Republican, registered an exploratory commission on April 26, aiming at next year's GOP primary.
Leiken is in his second term on the Lane commission and served 10 years as mayor of Springfield before that, so he has a base in the Willamette Valley. Just not enough of one.
Leiken announced today that he'll lower his sights and run instead for secretary of state next year. Current Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins, a Democrat who was appointed to fill the remainder of Gov. Kate Brown's term in that office, will not run next year.
Leiken faced the choice between seeking to challenge Brown or whomever wins the Democratic primary for governor, or seeking an open secretary of state's seat. Republicans haven't won a statewide office in Oregon since 2002, which could be a reason for caution.
Three Democrats—House Majority Leader Val Hoyle (D-Eugene), Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, and Joint Ways and Means co-Chairman Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin) are considering the seeking their party's nomination for secretary of state, but none has announced yet.
"For two months we have been on the trail meeting people around the state, getting their ideas about Oregon's future and whether they thought I should run for governor in 2016," Leiken said in a statement. "The consistent feedback I received during this tour is that Oregonians would rather see me run for Secretary of State, which is an open seat."