A governor will take the oath of office for the second time in as many months in Oregon on Wednesday. Secretary of State Kate Brown will become the second woman to serve as the state’s chief executive. She replaces fellow Democrat John Kitzhaber who is resigning amid a criminal ethics investigation.
Last fall, John Kitzhaber became the first person elected Oregon governor four times. Now he’s the state’s first governor to resign under pressure. Kitzhaber is accused of looking the other way while his fiancée Cylvia Hayes was paid by interest groups that wanted to use her influence to advance their legislative agenda. There are state and federal investigations underway.
On Saturday, Brown made a brief public appearance at a celebration for Oregon’s statehood anniversary. But she gave few clues as to what she plans to do as governor.
“I’m just delighted to be here to honor Oregon’s birthday today,” Brown said. “As everyone here in this room knows, Oregon is a very special place to live.”
Brown will take the oath of office before a joint session of the Oregon legislature. A press advisory says Brown will lay out a series of measures designed to restore public trust in government but gives no detail beyond that.
Brown is far from a political enigma in Oregon. She served in the state legislature for 17 years before getting elected to statewide office in 2008.
“Kate Brown is seen as much more of a classic Democrat,” says Jim Moore, who teaches political science at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore. “She is seen as further to the left. So she does not tend to cross the public employee unions. Big on environmental things. Not known for compromising with Republicans during her time in the legislative.”
The outgoing governor was known for working across the aisle. Brown will serve as Oregon governor through at least the 2016 general election. That’s when she would have the chance to win the remaining two years on Kitzhaber’s term.