Oregon Governor: Tina Kotek (D)
Tina Kotek, the governor-elect of Oregon, previously served in the Oregon House of Representatives (2013-2022) and made history twice in that position — being the first openly lesbian person to hold the position and being the state’s longest serving speaker ever.
She and Democrat Maura Healey are the two first openly lesbian governors in the United States.
Born in York, Pennsylvania, Kotek attended nearby Dallastown Area High School, before briefly attending Georgetown University.
She moved to Oregon in 1987, earning a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from the University of Oregon in 1990. She then went on to graduate study at the University of Washington, earning a master’s degree in international studies and comparative religion.
Before being elected to office, Kotek worked as the policy director of Children First for Oregon, prior to which she was a public policy advocate for the Oregon Food Bank.
She co-chaired the Human Services Coalition of Oregon during the 2002 budget crisis and served as the co-chair of the Medicaid Advisory Committee.
Though she lost her first race for public office in 2004, by 2006 she was an up-and-comer in the Democratic Party, prevailing in a three-candidate primary for a seat in the Oregon state House before defeating her Republican opponent by receiving nearly 80% of the vote.
She ran unopposed for reelection in 2008, and beat back a primary challenge in 2010 by winning 85% of the vote.
She hasn’t been challenged by a member of her own party since, and was reelected every two years through the 2020 election.
In addition to serving as speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, Kotek, in 2016, also became chair of the board of directors of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, a post she held until July 2019.
In January 2022, she announced her resignation from the speakership and from her House seat to focus on her campaign.