Jeanne Atkins, a veteran Democratic aide and women’s rights advocate appointed by Gov. Kate Brown to be Oregon’s new secretary of state, said Friday that she won’t run in 2016 for a full four-year term in the office. Instead, Atkins, 65, will serve in a caretaker role in the state’s second highest office, leaving what could be a long list of candidates to battle over the position in next year’s election. Brown announced Friday that she would appoint Atkins to fill the remaining 22 months of her term as secretary of state. Brown ascended to the governor’s office last month after John Kitzhaber resigned amid an influence-buying scandal.
Atkins, who retired from a top staff job for U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., in January, said it was clear from the beginning of her discussions with the governor’s office about the job that she didn’t intend to seek election to the office.
“My willingness to be considered was that it would be until a new secretary of state is elected by the people of Oregon” in 2016, Atkins said in a telephone interview.