On May 19, Oregon held its primary amongst the Coronavirus outbreak. Oregon is one of the few states that has vote-by-mail, so while many Oregonians had already mailed in their ballots, a few were rushing to their nearest ballot boxes to make sure their voices were going to be heard. While most of the outcomes ended up being pretty predictable, the run for Secretary of State seemed to be a much tighter race. Jamie McLeod-Skinner was one of the three contestants running for Secretary of State in Oregon. McLeod-Skinner is a community oriented person who tries to bring voices from all across Oregon together to create a solution. Living in a rural area, she understands the importance of all voices and has an eager desire to work with everyone. “I am running for Secretary of State because it is one of the most important jobs in our state right now,” she said in a zoom call campaign event. “I am someone who wants to protect our natural resources, fix campaign finances, work on income inequality and most importantly bridge the divide in our state.” Jeff Golden, an Oregon state senator who was on the call as well, states that McLeod-Skinner is the type of person who has strong progressive values while also having the perspective of her Eastern Oregonian neighbors. Alissa Keny-Guyer and Oregon House of Representative for District 46 added saying that McLeod-Skinner has the ability to “empower and educate multiple groups across this state.”
As the ballots were being counted it was clear that McLeod-Skinner was not going to win. However, the results were very unclear at first to who won. The Oregonian had called it for Mark Hass; however, it was soon realized that they had declared the wrong person as the winner. Shemia Fagan the third contestant in the race stated that she was “surprised to be down” because she thought that she had been getting positive responses from phone banking, but she inevitably congratulated Hass and was ready to get back to “normal life.” After she saw that they had incorrectly called Hass, she crunched her own numbers and realized that she could end up winning the seat. In the end, Fagan won the seat of Secretary of State with Hass as the second place and McLeod-Skinner in third. There is a good chance that we may be seeing more of Fagan in the future as it is expected that her role will allow her to be in a perfect position to run for governor in 2022.
So while McLeod-Skinner’s two competitors beat her in the primary race, running for public office was nothing new. She had been no stranger to running campaigns, having run for city council and then against Greg Waldon for the 2nd Congressional District for his seat in the House of Representatives last cycle. While Waldon kept his seat for the 11th time, she was the only competitor to have ever gotten more than 30% of the vote. Her campaigns had a huge focus on healing the divide and McLeod-Skinner used that in her benefit to lay out how she would bring the parties together. While a rural Oregonian, she is also part of the LGBTQIA+ community and understands the differences in perspectives. Her campaign takes pride in this race saying that she’s “the only candidate in the race for Oregon Secretary of State who has never taken corporate PAC money,” and that at the end of the day her loyalties remain with “you– the voters.”