By DON McINTOSH
Oregon Education Association announced Feb. 21 that it’s endorsing former Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek for governor, and Christina Stephenson for Oregon Labor Commissioner. OEA, the 41,000-member teachers union, is one of Oregon’s most politically active labor organizations. The endorsements were decided by hundreds of delegates at a two-day virtual convention of the union’s political action committee. Candidates seeking the OEA-PAC endorsement complete a candidate questionnaire, participate in a question and answer session with members, and speak with OEA-PAC delegates directly in the weeks leading up to the endorsement convention. Any OEA member who has donated at least $5 to OEA-PAC can participate as an OEA-PAC delegate.
OEA is the 13th union to endorse Kotek. She faces state treasurer Tobias Read in the May 17 Democratic primary. No unions have endorsed Read. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 endorsed Nick Kristof for governor, but Kristof was disqualified for failing to meet a residency requirement.
OEA is also the third to endorse Stephenson for labor commissioner, following Local 555 and Sheet Metal Workers Local 16. Stephenson faces Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla in the race for the non-partisan seat. Kulla has good relationships with unions but no labor endorsements thus far.