Kate Brown

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Kate Brown
Kate Brown.jpg
Oregon Secretary of State
In office
2009 - Present
Term ends
Years in position 7
PredecessorBill Bradbury (D)
Majority Leader, Oregon State Senate
Base salary$76,992
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
First electedNovember 4, 2008
Next generalIneligible for re-election
Campaign $$3,791,767
Term limits8 years in a 12 year period
Prior offices
Oregon State Senate
Oregon House of Representatives
Bachelor'sUniversity of Colorado at Boulder (1981)
J.D.Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College (1985)
Date of birthJune 21, 1960
Place of birthTorrejón de Ardoth, Spain
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
Kate Brown (born June 21, 1960, in Torrejón de Ardoth, Spain) is the current Democratic Oregon Secretary of State. She was first elected to the statewide position on November 4, 2008, becoming the highest ranking openly bisexual elected official in the country.[1] She won re-election on November 6, 2012.[2]

Brown previously served in the Oregon State Legislature from 1991 through 2009. In 2004 she became the first female to serve as Senate Majority Leader in Oregon.[3]

Brown was born in a suburb of Madrid, Torrejón de Ardoth (or Ardoz), which makes her one of a small number of state executive officials to have been born outside of the country. See how Kate Brown and Oregon's other state executives compare to their peers across the country: State executive officials serving in home states.


Although she was born in Spain, Kate Brown spent most of her childhood in Minnesota. She attended University of Colorado for her bachelor's degree and moved to her adopted state of Oregon for law school at Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College. After graduating from law school, she went on to practice family and juvenile law while at the same time teaching college students at Portland State University. She continues to practice as an attorney with the Juvenile Rights Project, a non-profit organization based in Portland that provides legal services to children and families.

Brown was working as an advocate for the Women's Rights Coalition when she was appointed to a vacant position in the Oregon House in 1991.[4]


  • B.A., Environmental conservation, University of Colorado at Boulder (1981)
  • J.D., Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College (1985)


  • Women of Achievement Award (1995) from the Oregon Commission for Women[5]
  • National Public and Community Service Award (2004) from the American Mental Health Counselors Association[6]
  • President's Award of Merit (2007) from Oregon State Bar[7]
  • Profiles in Courage Award from Basic Rights Oregon[7]
  • Legislator of the Year Award from the Oregon Psychological Association[7]
  • Outstanding Achievement Award from the Oregon Family Support Network[8]

Political career

Secretary of State (2008-present)

See also: Governor of Oregon#Vacancies

Since Oregon does not have a lieutenant governor, Brown is first in line to succeed to the office of governor if the governor should become unable to perform the duties of the office.

In 2012, Brown was the target of a lawsuit involving a moved election date, in which the plaintiff claimed that political motives had led the Secretary of State's office to interfere in the scheduling of an election. The suit failed but the controversy continued and is detailed below under 2012 candidate vs. Brown.


Secretary of State Project
See also: Secretary of State Project

The Center for Public Integrity reported in September 2008 that Kate Brown not only received the endorsement, but also substantial financial assistance (nearly $65,000) from the Secretary of State Project, a below-the-radar 527 political organization whose stated purpose is "wrestling control of the country from the Republican Party" through the process of "removing their political operatives from deciding who can vote and whose votes will count," namely the office of Secretary of State in many cases.[9][10]

2012 candidate vs. Brown
See also: Oregon secretary of state's election date snafu still unresolved despite judge's ruling

In her role as Secretary of State, Brown found herself in a controversy during the 2012 election cycle due to an altered election date. The race for Commissioner of Labor and Industries was moved from May to November, something Republican candidate Bruce Starr said he was not made aware of until 10 days after the filing deadline. In March 2012, Bruce Starr, a Republican candidate for commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries in the 2012 election, filed a lawsuit in Marion County Circuit Court against Brown for allegedly failing to inform all parties involved in the race of the correct election date. Apparently, both of the candidates in the race had been operating under the false assumption that the election was to be held in May, when it was in fact scheduled to coincide with the other statewide office elections in November. The Secretary of State office's website, which Brown oversees, listed Starr and his opponent as candidates in the May primary. The plaintiff, Starr, claimed he learned of the change only because one of his campaign staffers made a routine call to the Elections Division, and the incumbent, Brad Avakian, found out in similar fashion. When he discovered he had the wrong date, Starr accused Brown of moving the date to improve the incumbent's chances out of party favoritism. He demanded the decision to push the election to November be reversed and that the election proceed in May, "when a Republican presidential primary should help GOP candidates." Starr filed suit against Brown, seeking to prevent the date change.[11][12]

Brown responded by citing a bill passed by the 2009 Legislature that addresses the matter of the election cycle of the office in question, saying the terms are "clearly stated" and the accusations are "outrageous" despite the legitimate confusion reported by both campaigns about the date. Starr's request was denied but Brown's handling of the matter continued to stoke controversy throughout the race.[11]

Oregon State Senate (2002-2008)

She was elected to the Oregon State Senate, representing the 21st Congressional District, in 2003. In 2004, Kate Brown was elected State Senate Majority Leader, a role she occupied until 2009 when she became Secretary of State.[4]

Oregon House of Representatives (1990-1996)

Kate Brown was first appointed to fill a vacant seat in the Oregon House of Representatives representing the 13th Congressional District in 1991. She was subsequently elected to the seat, which he held until 1997.[4]



See also: Oregon secretary of state election, 2012

Brown successfully defended her post in the 2012 election. She defeated Paul Damian Wells in the Democratic primary election on May 15, 2012 and later triumphed over Knute Buehler (R), Seth Woolley (Pacific Green Party), Bruce Alexander Knight (Libertarian), and Robert Wolfe (Progressive) in the general election on November 6, 2012.[13][14]

Oregon Secretary of State General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngKate Brown Incumbent 51.4% 863,656
     Republican Knute Buehler 43.3% 727,607
     Green Seth Woolley 2.6% 44,235
     Libertarian Bruce Alexander Knight 1.4% 24,273
     Progressive Robert Wolfe 1.3% 21,783
Total Votes 1,681,554
Election Results via Oregon Secretary of State.

Brown won the 2012 Democratic primary, easily overcoming one challenger.[15]

Oregon Secretary of State Democratic Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngKate Brown 91.1% 277,052
Paul Damian Wells 8.4% 25,568
Write-ins 0.5% 1,400
Total Votes 304,020
Election Results via OregonLive 2012 Primary Results.


  • Voter-ID

According to a report published on August 29th in The Oregonian Brown is strongly opposed to enacting voter-ID laws which would require voters to verify their identities by presenting a government issued photo ID in order for their votes to count. "I stand and Oregon stands in contrast to what's happening across the country in the war on voting." Brown insists that the integrity is maintained by a reliable system of signature matching and Oregon's centralized voter registration database.[16]

  • Campaign spending

In mid-September, Brown announced that she is placing a $1 million spending cap on her re-election campaign this year. Her opponent, Knute Buehler, who has reportedy raised nearly $1 million and spent about $542,000 so far this election season, said he would not follow suit, and suggested that Brown's adoption of a spending limit is her reaction to concerns about trailing Buehler in fundraising (Brown has raised $575,000 and spent about $264,000 as of September 19th) and recently firing her campaign finance manager. Brown denied his accusations, saying that she has hired a replacement and defending the ethical merits of setting a spending limit. "I've raised more than $1 million in the past.... It's not fun and it's also not right. That's why I think it's time for us to do something about it and I'm the one in this race leading by example."[17]


Click "show" to expand a list of Kate Brown's 2012 endorsements.

Money in the race

The top ten donors to Brown's campaign were as follows:[19]

Donor Amount
Citizen Action for Political Education $25,000.00
Democratic Association of Secretaries of State $15,000.00
Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians $10,000.00
Oregon AFSCME Council 75 $10,000.00
Oregon Education Association-People for Improvement of Education (142) $10,000.00
Local Electricians PAC (4572) $10,000.00
EMILY's List Federal Fund $5,000.00
Plumbers and Steamfitters PAC (221) $5,000.00
Local Electricians PAC (4572) $5,000.00
Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund $5,000.00


On November 4, 2008, Kate Brown won election to the office of Oregon Secretary of State. She defeated Rick Dancer (R) and Seth Alan Woolley (PG) in the general election.

Oregon Secretary of State, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngKate Brown 51% 873,968
     Republican Rick Dancer 45.8% 785,740
     Pacific Green Seth Alan Woolley 3% 51,271
     Misc. Various 0.2% 2,740
Total Votes 1,713,719
Election Results Via: Oregon Secretary of State

2008 Race for Secretary of State - Democratic Primary[20]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Kate Brown 51.7%
     Democratic Party Rick Metsger 27.2%
     Democratic Party Vicki L. Walker 18.0%
     Democratic Party Paul D. Wells 2.7%
     Write-In 0.4%
Total Votes 537,046

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Brown is available dating back to 1992. Based on available campaign finance records, Brown raised a total of $3,791,767 during that time period. This information was last updated on May 18, 2013.[21]

Kate Brown's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 OR Secretary of State Won $1,498,794
2010 OR Secretary of State Not up for election $20,997
2008 OR Secretary of State Won $1,196,410
2006 OR State Senate Not up for election $175,571
2004 OR State Senate Won $607,462
2000 OR State Senate Won $181,473
1996 OR State Senate Won $18,228
1994 OR State Senate Won $43,284
1992 OR State Senate Won $49,548
Grand Total Raised $3,791,767


Brown won re-election to the position of Oregon Secretary of State in 2012. During that election cycle, Brown raised a total of $1,498,794.


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Kate Brown's donors each year.[22] Click [show] for more information.


Kate Brown currently resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband, Dan, and her two stepchildren, Dylan and Jessie.[23]

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Kate + Brown + Oregon + Secretary"

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Kate Brown News Feed

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See also

Contact information


Capitol Address:
Oregon Secretary of State
136 State Capitol
Salem OR 97301

Phone: (503) 986-1523
Fax: (503) 986-1616
E-mail: oregon.sos@state.or.us

External links

Suggest a link


  1. Victory Fund, "Kate Brown," accessed May 16, 2012
  2. Oregon Live, "2012 General Election Results," November 7, 2012
  3. Century of Action, "Interviews - Kate Brown," February 14, 2012
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Oregonian, "Secretary of State Brown defends record; challenger Buehler seeks to be first successful statewide GOP candidate in a decade," October 15, 2012
  5. Oregon Commission for Women, "Women of Achievement Hall of Fame," accessed May 21, 2014
  6. Project Vote Smart, "Kate Brown's Biography," accessed May 21, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 The Oregonian, "Kate Brown honored by Oregon State Bar," December 5, 2007
  8. Southern Oregon Pride Festival, "2012 Grand Marshals," accessed May 21, 2014
  9. Center for Public Integrity: Paper Trial Blog, "Election '08: Scoring Secretary of State Seats for Dems" 8 Sept. 2008
  10. American Spectator, "SOS in Minnesota" 7 Nov. 2008
  11. 11.0 11.1 Oregon Live, "See you in November?," March 20, 2012
  12. Oregon Live, "Why the Oregon labor commissioner election controversy won't die," April 5, 2012
  13. Oregon Live, "2012 General Election Results," November 7, 2012
  14. Oregon Secretary of State, "Voter Guide," accessed October 18, 2012
  15. Oregon Live, "Oregon 2012 Primary Results," May 16, 2012
  16. The Oregonian, "Oregon's the safe harbor from voter-ID mania," August 29, 2012
  17. The Oregonian, "Oregon Secretary of State candidates trade tough words over campaign spending limits," September 19, 2012
  18. Kate Brown for Oregon, "Endorsements," accessed October 1, 2012
  19. Oregon Secretary of State, "Campaign Finance Reports-Kate Brown," accessed September 29, 2012
  20. Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division - 2008 Primary Election Results
  21. Follow the Money, " Career fundraising for Kate Brown," accessed May 18, 2013
  22. Follow the Money.org
  23. Washington Blade, "Gay man seeks to become Delaware’s next insurance commissioner," accessed September 5, 2012
Political offices
Preceded by
Bill Bradbury (D)
Oregon Secretary of State
2009 - present
Succeeded by