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|38th Governor of Oregon|
|Assumed office |
February 18, 2015
|Preceded by||John Kitzhaber|
|24th Oregon Secretary of State|
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|
June 21, 1960
Torrejón de Ardoz, Community of Madrid, Spain
|Education||University of Colorado Boulder (BA)|
Lewis & Clark College (JD)
Katherine Brown (born June 21, 1960) is an American attorney and politician who is the 38th 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 I-82 and sections of I-84 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.
In January 2017, she named Nik Blosser as her third chief of staff following the resignation of former chief of staff Kristen Leonard. In June 2017, Brown signed into law the Oregon Equal Pay Act, which sought to reduce the gender pay gap by banning employers from using job seekers' prior salaries in hiring decisions.
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.
In a November 2018 budget plan, Brown proposed a 30-year plan to limit Oregon's greenhouse gas emissions via a "cap-and-trade" system. In 2019, after a measles outbreak in Oregon, she urged parents to vaccinate their kids. "Holy smokes, this is basic science," she said.
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%|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kate Brown.|
|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