PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown will become the state's next Chief Executive following the resignation of sitting Gov. John Kitzhaber. The promotion of the 54-year old Democrat, who is next in line to succeed him, makes Brown the only current openly LGBT governor of a US state, and the second LGBT governor in US history following New Jersey's Jim McGreevey.
Brown, who is openly bisexual, is not expected to assume office until Wednesday, when Kitzhaber will vacate the office because of an influence-peddling scandal involving his fiancee.
Unlike most states, Oregon has no lieutenant governor. Under the state constitution, the secretary of state takes over if a governor steps down or dies. That has happened eight times since statehood, according to the Blue Book, the state government almanac.
Until recent weeks, the assumption about Brown’s career was that she would make a bid for governor when Kitzhaber’s term ends in 2018.
Brown, a Minnesota native, came to Oregon to attend law school in Portland, the state’s largest city, and established a family law practice before her first run for the Legislature.
The new job will require her to immediately start running for election, said Ron Cease, a retired professor of political science and public administration at Portland State University who served in the Legislature with Brown.
Brown would not serve out Kitzhaber’s full term, but would have to go on the ballot in the next general election in 2016.
“I would think the stress level is going to be enormous,” Cease said.
Her sexuality has never been a prominent issue in Oregon, where Portland recently had an openly gay mayor in Sam Adams and where the current speaker of the House, Tina Kotek, is a lesbian.
News accounts have long said Brown is married but considers herself bisexual, without saying more. Her Blue Book biography says she lives in Portland with her husband, Dan.

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