|38th Governor of Oregon|
February 18, 2015
|Preceded by||John Kitzhaber|
|24th Secretary of State of Oregon|
January 5, 2009 – February 18, 2015
|Preceded by||Bill Bradbury|
|Succeeded by||Jeanne Atkins|
|Member of the Oregon Senate
from the 21st district
January 13, 1997 – January 2, 2009
|Preceded by||Shirley Gold|
|Succeeded by||Diane Rosenbaum|
|Member of the Oregon House of Representatives
from the 13th district
November 26, 1991 – January 12, 1997
|Preceded by||Judy Bauman|
|Succeeded by||Dan Gardner|
|Education||University of Colorado, Boulder (BA)
Lewis and Clark College (JD)
Katherine Brown (born June 21, 1960) is an American attorney and politician who is the 38th and current governor of Oregon. A member of the Democratic Party, she previously served in the Oregon House of Representatives, in the Oregon State Senate, and as Oregon Secretary of State. She became governor in February 2015 following the resignation of John Kitzhaber, won the special election the following year, and was reelected in 2018. Brown is the first openly bisexual governor in the United States, the first openly LGBT person elected governor in the United States, and the second female governor of Oregon after Barbara Roberts.
Early life and career
Brown was born in Torrejón de Ardoz, Community of Madrid, Spain, where her father was serving in the United States Air Force, and grew up in Minnesota. She graduated from Mounds View High School in Arden Hills, Minnesota in 1978. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Conservation with a certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1981 and a J.D. degree and certificate in Environmental Law from the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College in 1985.
Oregon Legislative Assembly
Brown was appointed to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1991, filling a vacancy left by predecessor Judy Bauman, who took an executive appointment. She was elected to a second term before being elected to the Oregon State Senate in 1996. Two years later, she was elected Senate Democratic Leader; in 2004, senators made her the first woman to serve as Oregon’s Senate Majority Leader.
In July 2007, Brown announced that she would give up her seat in the Oregon Senate to be a candidate for Oregon Secretary of State in 2008. On May 20, 2008, Brown won the election for the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State, and on November 5 she won the general election by a 51–46% margin against Republican candidate Rick Dancer.
Oregon Secretary of State
Coming into office, one of Brown’s priorities was to perform rigorous performance audits to help balance the budget. In 2008, for every dollar the State spent, performance audits returned $8 in cost savings. In 2010, Brown reported she delivered $64 in cost savings and efficiencies for every dollar invested in the Division.
In 2009, Brown introduced and passed House Bill 2005 to crack down on fraud and abuse in the initiative and referendum system. It gave the Secretary of State more power to prosecute fraud and enforce the constitutional ban on paying per signature on initiatives.
In 2009, the Aspen Institute named Brown as one of 24 “Rising Stars” in American politics and awarded her with a Rodel Fellowship. The program is a two-year fellowship designed to break down partisan barriers and explore the responsibilities of public leadership and good governance.
In October 2012, StateTech magazine highlighted Brown’s use of iPad and tablet technology to increase accessibility for voters with disabilities. In 2011, Oregon became the first jurisdiction in the country to use this technology to help voters with disabilities mark their ballots.
In January 2015, Brown submitted a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in support of the purchase of Time Warner Cable by Comcast that had been almost entirely ghostwritten by Comcast, a company that has made a total of over $10,000 in donations to her past election campaigns.
Governor of Oregon
On February 13, 2015, Governor John Kitzhaber announced his pending resignation, amid a public corruption scandal; Brown succeeded him on February 18, since the Oregon Constitution identifies the secretary of state as the successor when the governor leaves office prematurely.
Brown named Brian Shipley, a lobbyist for Oregon Health & Science University and former deputy chief of staff to Governor Ted Kulongoski, as her chief of staff. As her secretary of state, she appointed Jeanne Atkins.
Upon taking office, Brown announced that she would extend the moratorium on executions her predecessor had enacted. She also signed a “motor voter” bill she had championed while secretary of state, to automatically register voters using their driver’s license data.
In July 2016, Brown signed HB3402, which raised the maximum speed limit to 70 MPH on sections of I-84 east and US-95. Previously the maximum allowed speed limit allowed on Oregon highways was 65. This bill also raised speed limits on non-interstate highways in eastern Oregon from 55 to 65.
Oregon law required a special election in November 2016 for the two years remaining in Kitzhaber’s unfinished term as governor. By April 2016, Brown had raised over $800,000 for her campaign in 2016 alone, while her closest Democratic primary competitor, Julian Bell, had raised $33,000. She defeated Bell, Chet Chance, Kevin M. Forsythe, Steve Johnson, and Dave Stauffer for the Democratic nomination. She won the general election against Republican Party nominee Bud Pierce, Independent Party nominee Cliff Thomason, Libertarian Party nominee James Foster, and Constitution Party nominee Aaron Donald Auer, receiving 51% of the vote.
Brown announced in November 2017 she would run for her first full term as governor the following year. She was reelected in November 2018, defeating Republican Knute Buehler 50.0% to 43.9%, with Independent Party nominee Patrick Starnes, Libertarian Party nominee Nick Chen, Constitution Party nominee Aaron Auer, and Progressive Party nominee Chris Henry taking the remaining votes.
Brown was integral in rounding up votes to pass a bill in 2003 reforming Oregon’s Public Employee Retirement System and then voted against the reform bill in order to preserve her ties to organized labor. Many of her colleagues went on to lose their seats due to backlash from labor unions.
As Secretary of State, Brown faced further political backlash when she said she had made a mistake in the scheduling of the election for Labor Commissioner between Democrat Brad Avakian and Republican Bruce Starr. An early election would have favored Starr, but as the election approached, Brown changed her mind and scheduled the election for November, helping Avakian win the race.
Brown has been criticized for ousting a number of high-level public officials.
Brown faced an investigation into brokering an agreement – for campaign contributions – between Nike and unions that withdrew a corporate transparency initiative from the general election ballot in 2018. Nike founder Phil Knight contributed over $1 million to the campaign of her Republican opponent.
Brown lives in Mahonia Hall with her husband, Dan Little. She has two stepchildren, Dylan and Jessie. She is bisexual and is the country’s first openly bisexual statewide officeholder and first openly bisexual governor.
|Democratic||Kate Brown (Incumbent)||13,541||98.81%|
|Democratic||Kate Brown (Incumbent)||52,278||86.52%|
|Democratic||Paul Damian Wells||14,696||2.74%|
|Pacific Green||Seth Alan Woolley||51,271||2.99%|
|Democratic||Kate Brown (Incumbent)||284,470||91.13%|
|Democratic||Paul Damian Wells||26,177||8.39%|
|Democratic||Kate Brown (Incumbent)||863,656||51.28%|
|Pacific Green||Seth Woolley||44,235||2.63%|
|Libertarian||Bruce Alexander Knight||24,273||1.44%|
|Democratic||Kate Brown (Incumbent)||494,890||83.06%|
|Democratic||Kate Brown (Incumbent)||985,027||50.62%|
|Constitution||Aaron Donald Auer||19,400||1.00%|
|Democratic||Kate Brown (Incumbent)||324,541||81.9%|
|Democratic||Kate Brown (Incumbent)||885,232||50.0%|
Awards and distinctions
- 1995 – Recipient, Woman of Achievement Award from the Oregon Commission for Women
- 2004 – Recipient, National Public and Community Service Award from the American Mental Health Counselors Association
- 2007 – Recipient, President’s Award of Merit from the Oregon State Bar
- 2015 – Was listed as one of the nine runners-up for The Advocate‘s Person of the Year
- 2017 – Named to the inaugural NBC Out #Pride30 list
- Profiles in Courage by Basic Rights Oregon
- List of U.S. state governors born outside the United States
- List of female governors in the United States
- List of female secretaries of state in the United States
- “Kate Brown Sworn In as Oregon Governor, Replacing John Kitzhaber”. The New York Times. February 18, 2015. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
- “Kate Brown Becomes Governor”. The Oregonian. February 18, 2015. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
- “Gov. John Kitzhaber Announces His Resignation”. Willamette Week. February 13, 2015. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- “Meet America’s First Openly Bisexual Governor”. MSN. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
- Helena Horton (September 9, 2016). “People are celebrating women who made history on US Election night in response to Donald Trump win”. The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. Retrieved 2016-11-15.
- Tim Fought and Jeff Barnard, Associated Press (February 14, 2015). “Scandal makes ex-Minnesotan next governor of Oregon”. Star Tribune. Archived from the original on February 18, 2015. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
- Peter Wong (February 18, 2015). “Calling Kate Brown”. Portland Tribune. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
- Schwarz, Hunter (February 13, 2015). “This woman will soon become the first openly bisexual governor in American history”. The Washington Post. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- Kost, Ryan (July 10, 2007). “Senator joins secretary of state race”. The Oregonian. Retrieved July 11, 2007.
- Bajko, Matthew S. (November 22, 2007). “Political Notebook: Bisexual, lesbian politicians stump in SF”. Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved May 15, 2008.
- Kost, Ryan. “Says for every dollar the state spent on audits last year, it delivered $64 in cost savings”. PolitiFact. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
- “Enrolled – House Bill 2005”. 75th OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY—2009 Regular Session. State of Oregon. June 15, 2009. Retrieved February 19, 2014.
- Foden-Vencil, Kristian. “Online Voter Registration Celebrates First Anniversary”. Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
- “Selects 24 ‘Rising Stars’ in Governance For Its Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership Program”. The Aspen Institute. July 29, 2009. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
- Wong, Wylie. “How iPads Are Making Voting More Accessible in Oregon”. StateTech Magazine. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
- Woodman, Spencer. “Exclusive: politicians are supporting Comcast’s TWC merger with letters ghostwritten by Comcast”. The Verge. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
- “Kate Brown chooses next Chief of Staff”. KGW.com. February 16, 2015. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
- Jaquiss, Nigel (February 16, 2015). “Brian Shipley Will Be Incoming Gov. Kate Brown’s Chief of Staff”. Willamette Week. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
- “Jeanne Atkins sworn in as Oregon secretary of state”. KATU. March 11, 2015. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
- Sebens, Shelby (February 20, 2015). “New Oregon Governor Kate Brown to extend death penalty moratorium”. Reuters.
- “Kate Brown gets to sign her own bill, for automatic voter registration in Oregon”. OregonLive.com. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
- “Gov. Kate Brown taps Nik Blosser for new chief of staff”. OregonLive.com. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
- “OCEP EPIC LEGISLATIVE REPORT | Oregon ACEP”. oregonacep.org. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
- Kullgren, Ian (March 9, 2016). “Election 2016: Who’s running for office in Oregon? Portland? We’ve got your list right here”. The Oregonian. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
- Selsky, Andrew (May 7, 2016). “Kate Brown expected to win primary; GOP field mixed”. KOIN 6 News. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
- “Kristen Leonard is Out as Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s Chief of Staff”. Willamette Week. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
- “Gov. Brown’s chief of staff resigns | City Region | Eugene, Oregon”. projects.registerguard.com. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
- “Two of Kate Brown’s staffers resign following conflict of interest questions”. OregonLive.com. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
- Brown, Kate (November 14, 2017). “Re-elect Kate Brown For Governor of Oregon”. Facebook. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Wilson, Reid (9 December 2018). “New governors plan aggressive climate steps”. The Hill. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
- Jaquiss, Nigel (February 10, 2015). “Governor in Waiting”. Willamette Week. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
- “Kate Brown ousts respected Oregon state librarian”. OregonLive.com. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
- “Oregon DHS child welfare audit says staff endured ‘bullying, intimidation’ by agency leaders”. Statesman Journal. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
- Manning, Rob. “Audit Finds Wealth Of Problems With Oregon’s Child Welfare Office”. www.opb.org. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
- “Child welfare audit is much more than ‘just politics’: Editorial”. OregonLive.com. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
- “Audit faults top administrators for Oregon’s chronic child welfare failures”. OregonLive.com. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
- Borrud, Hillary (August 8, 2018). “Oregon DOJ declines to investigate Kate Brown’s deal with Nike, unions”. OregonLive.com. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
- Borrud, Hillary (September 7, 2018). “Phil Knight’s contributions to Knute Buehler now reportedly total $1.5 million”. OregonLive.com. Retrieved 2018-09-07.
- Walsh, Edward (November 5, 2008). “Democrats sweep to capture statewide jobs”. The Oregonian. Retrieved November 5, 2008.
- “Walking Bi”. Portland Mercury. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
- “Kate Brown, Oregon, 1992”. Out and Elected in the USA – The First 30 Years: 1974–2004. Out History. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
- “November 8, 2016, General Election Abstract of Votes” (PDF). Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved January 3, 2017.
- “Kate Brown honored by Oregon State Bar”. The Oregonian.
- “SOPride | Grand Marshal Page”. www.sopride.org. Retrieved 2016-11-03.
- Advocate.com Editors. “Person of the Year: The Finalists”. Advocate.com. Retrieved November 6, 2015.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
- O’Hara, Mary Emily (June 23, 2017). “#Pride30: Oregon’s Kate Brown Embraces Status as First LGBTQ Elected Governor”. NBC News. Retrieved July 10, 2017.
- Brad Schmidt, “Kate Brown: Next Oregon Governor Described as Tenacious, Personable,” The Oregonian, February 13, 2015.
- Governor of Oregon official government site
- Kate Brown for Governor official campaign site
- Kate Brown at Curlie
- Appearances on C-SPAN
|Party political offices|
| Democratic nominee for Secretary of State of Oregon
| Democratic nominee for Governor of Oregon
| Secretary of State of Oregon
| Governor of Oregon
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
as Vice President
| Order of Precedence of the United States
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Otherwise Nancy Pelosi
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
as Governor of Minnesota
| Order of Precedence of the United States
as Governor of Kansas