PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon state Sen. Betsy Johnson announced Tuesday she will be resigning this week to focus on running for governor.
In a video statement, Johnson said she will officially step down from the Legislature Wednesday.
“My reason is simple: Northwest Oregon deserves a full-time state senator, and running for governor is a full-time job,” Johnson said.
Both Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, and state Rep. Christine Drazan, R-Canby, continue to serve in the Legislature as they run for the state’s highest office.
Johnson, a moderate Democrat who began serving in the Legislature in 2001, is running as an independent for the seat currently held by term-limited Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat.
In her time in the Legislature, Johnson has frequently cast her vote with Republicans on issues like gun control, taxes and climate change.
As an independent, Johnson avoids a crowded Democratic field in the primary — including Kotek, former New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof and state Treasurer Tobias Read. Republicans seeking their party’s nomination include Drazan, former Republican nominee Bud Pierce and Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam.
As a nonaffiliated candidate, Johnson will not need to run a primary race to make the November 2022 ballot . Instead, she has to collect roughly 23,750 valid signatures from Oregon voters. She should have plenty of money to get her message across; she’s already raised more than $2.1 million.
With her departure from the Senate, Democratic Party officials within Johnson’s district will choose a slate of nominees to fill out the remainder of her term, which runs through 2022. Commissioners for counties included in Johnson’s Senate District 16 – Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook, Washington and Multnomah – will then pick a replacement.
Cline is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.