Ready or not, Oregon, the 2022 election season is here.
Labor Day weekend of odd-numbered years is the traditional kick-off of serious campaign activity aimed at the ballot voters will mark in 14 months.
If anything, 2021 has a running start. The busy summer needs a primer to catch up on what’s happened and what’s coming up that will have an impact on the ballot voters will see for the general election on Nov. 8, 2022.
• A wide-open governor’s race that for the first time in 20 years won’t feature an incumbent or former governor on the ballot. Gov. Kate Brown is barred from seeking a third consecutive term.
• A new open congressional seat — Oregon’s first in 40 years. With all five current U.S. House members from Oregon seeking re-election, the new district is a chance to join a club that rarely has vacancies.
• U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, is marking 40 years since he first came to Washington as a 31-year-old U.S. House member from Portland. He’s running for another term and already has $6.3 million in the bank for the race.
• New political topography in Oregon created by a legally required redrawing of lines for 96 House, Senate, and congressional seats might not be finalized until as late as January 2022.
• A slew of proposed initiatives, constitutional amendments, referendums and referrals working their way through the long process of qualifying for the November 2022 ballot.
Brown’s departure and redistricting have unleashed pent up ambition among politicians whose rise has been blocked by incumbents holding on to the top offices.
House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, announced last week recently that she is ready to drop her gavel and run for governor next year. Kotek has brought on veteran campaign advisor Thomas Wheatley, who performed the same role for Brown in her 2018 campaign.
Kotek is the state’s longest-serving House Speaker, having been chosen by colleagues in votes every two years since 2013.
Candidates cannot run simultaneously for two offices on the ballot. That’s a trouble spot for Kotek and an advantage for possible primary opponents like Treasurer Tobias Read and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
If either of them run and lose, they go back to their old job. But a Kotek loss would leave her out of Oregon politics for the first time since she was first elected to the House in 2006.
No votes will have been cast by March 8, 2022, the final day to declare candidacy for office. Kotek will have to make a judgment call on how she is doing in the run-up to the primary more than two months later on May 20, 2022.
The deadline for her decision would come the latest day the Legislature can adjourn its 35-day session that begins in February.