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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Big Money Flows Into Oregon Secretary Of State's Race

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Campaign photo
Democratic Oregon state Rep. Val Hoyle received a $250,000 contribution from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The race to become Oregon's next secretary of state is heating up. The three Democratic candidates in this month's primary are trading barbs after one of them received a huge contribution from a New York billionaire.

And no, it's not Donald Trump.

The billionaire at the heart of this campaign tiff is former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. He sent Democratic state Rep. Val Hoyle a $250,000 check. That's unusually large in Oregon politics, especially in a race for secretary of state.

Bloomberg was rewarding Hoyle for shepherding through a vote in the Oregon legislature that expanded background checks to include private gun sales. A spokesman for Hoyle said the gift was a way to recognize her leadership as head of the Oregon House Democrats in getting the measure through the legislature.

The other two Democrats in the race, state Sen. Richard Devlin and Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, each issued statements blasting Hoyle for taking Bloomberg's money.

The race for Oregon secretary of state is competitive this year since the current officeholder is not seeking election. Jeanne Atkins has served just over a year after being appointed by Oregon Governor Kate Brown. Atkins said at the time that she had no intention to seek a full term.

The secretary of state's job became available when Brown received a promotion to governor in the wake of John Kitzhaber's resignation in February 2015.

Also seeking the office are Republicans Sid Leiken and Dennis Richardson, as well as Paul Wells of the Independent Party of Oregon.

Democrats have held the Oregon Secretary of State’s office since 1985.