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State Sen. Richard Devlin of Tualatin says he will make it official this week that he is running for Oregon secretary of state.


Devlin is joining a growing field of Democratic candidates in the May 17 primary, filing for which opens Thursday, Sept. 10.

Also getting set to enter the Democratic field are Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, who made a bid in 2008 before he was appointed to his current job, and state Rep. Val Hoyle of Eugene, who resigned recently as House majority leader.

Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken has announced for the Republican nomination.

The Democratic incumbent is Jeanne Atkins of Portland, who was appointed by now-Gov. Kate Brown to complete the rest of Brown’s second term when Brown became governor on Feb. 18. Atkins is not seeking election on her own next year.

The secretary of state is next in line of succession to the governor. The official is the state’s chief elections officer, and also supervises audits, public and business records.

As Senate co-chairman of the Legislature’s joint budget committee since 2011, Devlin is one of the chamber’s most influential members.

While nothing in Devlin’s previous work suggests he is a whiz at numbers — he has worked in juvenile and adult corrections, and was a private investigator — Devlin says he has made an extra effort to learn about budgets and programs.

“I read budgets like some people read novels,” he said in an interview with the Portland Tribune/Pamplin Media Group earlier this year.

Not only does Devlin pore over previous state budgets to look for patterns of income and spending, aides say he also reads the budgets of counties, school districts and other local governments that receive state aid.

“Being familiar with the realities of budgets, I find it is difficult to respond to people who think it’s easy,” he says.

But Rep. Peter Buckley, a Democrat from Ashland who is the House budget co-chairman, says Devlin’s effort has paid off.

“I have never worked with anybody who has his grasp of details,” Buckley says.

Background

Devlin, who turns 63 on Sept. 15, is a veteran of local and state government.

But until he came to Tualatin in 1980, he had not spent two years in a single community since he turned 18, except for a stint in the Marine Corps and college. Devlin earned a bachelor’s degree in the administration of justice from Portland State University in 1976, and a master’s degree in management from Pepperdine University in 1980.

He spent three years on the Tualatin Parks Advisory Committee. It was not his first choice for civic involvement, but the experience helped him after voters approved a parks levy and he joined the Tualatin City Council in 1985.

In 1988, he was elected to the Metro Council.

In 1994, he lost his first bid for the Oregon House, but in a rematch two years later, he unseated Republican incumbent Bob Tiernan of Lake Oswego.

After three terms in the House, Devlin defeated Tiernan for an open Oregon Senate seat in 2002.

He has been on the budget committee ever since, sitting on four of its subcommittees and leading the education and natural resources panels.

He was majority leader from June 2007 until November 2010 and has been Senate co-chairman of the Legislature’s joint budget committee since 2011, having held that position for three cycles.

Devlin was unopposed for re-election last year. He represents Senate District 19, but his seat is not up for election in 2016.

If Devlin is elected secretary of state, his replacement would be named by commissioners from Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. The appointee, who must be a Democrat, would fill the two years remaining in the term.

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