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Ashland Sen. Jeff Golden joins race for Democratic nomination for Oregon state treasurer

State Sen. Jeff Golden, D-Ashland, speaks during a press conference about the Senate Republican walkout on June 6, 2023.
Julia Shumway
Oregon Capital Chronicle
State Sen. Jeff Golden, D-Ashland, speaks during a press conference about the Senate Republican walkout on June 6, 2023.

The Democratic primary for Oregon state treasurer is growing increasingly competitive with the addition Thursday of a third candidate, state Sen. Jeff Golden of Ashland.

Golden confirmed in a text message to the Capital Chronicle his intent to run against another Democratic lawmaker, Sen. Elizabeth Steiner of Portland and Jeff Gudman, a former city councilman from Lake Oswego who previously ran as a Republican. No Republicans are running yet, while Seth Woolley, a software engineer, is running for the Pacific Green Party nomination.

“I plan to offer Oregon voters a different vision for leadership of the state Treasury,” Golden said.

Golden didn’t discuss his plans in depth, saying he’ll wait until the legislative session is over March 10. He has not yet filed his candidacy with the Secretary of State’s Office.

The treasurer oversees state investments, including the $94 billion Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund, or PERS, and manages public banking and saving programs including the Oregon College Savings Plan and OregonSaves, a retirement plan for self-employed workers.

Steiner, a family physician and instructor at Oregon Health & Science University, is considered a frontrunner for the job having served as co-chair of the powerful budget making Joint Ways and Means Committee for the last five years.

“One of the values of democracy is bringing a wide range of ideas to the table,” Steiner said via email. “If Senator Golden does jump into this race, I look forward to seeing him on the campaign trail and discussing those ideas.”

Golden, a former Jackson County commissioner and broadcast journalist, has served in the Senate since 2018 and is chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire.

The two are at odds in the Legislature, too, diverging on who should pay for much-needed increases in state wildfire funding.

Oregon’s current state treasurer, Tobias Read, is running for secretary of state after serving for nearly eight years in the job.

The Oregon Capital Chronicle is a professional, nonprofit news organization. We are an affiliate of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. The Capital Chronicle retains full editorial independence, meaning decisions about news and coverage are made by Oregonians for Oregonians.

Alex Baumhardt is a JPR content partner from the Oregon Capital Chronicle. Before that Alex was a national radio producer focusing on education for American Public Media.