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Urban League CEO Johnson won't run for Marion County Senate seat

Post held by the late Jackie Winters attracts Republican incumbent Boles and two local Democrats to May primary.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Nkenge Harmon Johnson, chief executive officer of the Urban League of Portland, decided against seeking the Senate District 10 seat held by the late Jackie Winters.Tuesday's deadline for candidates to file to run for office brought a surprise in the race for a Salem-area Senate seat.

Nkenge Harmon Johnson, chief executive officer of the Urban League of Portland and former communications director for Gov. John Kitzhaber, did not file to run for the Senate seat despite previously signaling that she would.

Senate District 10 includes southern and western portions of Salem as well as outlying areas. The seat had long been held by Republican Jackie Winters, a moderate who was first elected to the Senate in 2002.

PMGWinters died in 2019 and Democrats have been eying the seat as a potential pickup in 2020. However, the March 10 filing deadline has come and gone and Harmon Johnson has not filed to run despite having set up a campaign committee and website. Harmon Johnson could not immediately be reached for comment.

The seat is held by Republican Denyc Boles who was appointed to it after Winters died. Boles, who previously served in the House, has filed to run to keep her position.

Democrat Deb Patterson, a congregational minister, is making her second run for the office after a strong showing against Winters in 2018. Two other Democrats have also filed to run. They include Charles Womble, who lists his occupation as a programmer analyst, as well as Kenji Sugahara, who co-owns a company that produces video using drones.

The 2020 Legislature officially adjourned March 8 after passing only three bills. Republicans walked out of the session to deny majority Democrats a quorum to pass a controversial greenhouse gas reduction bill. All Republican legislators except for two from the Bend area participated in the walkout. Angered Democratic leaders gaveled the session to a halt on Thursday, March 5.