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Governor habla espanol

Gov. Kate Brown has Spanish language skills she has kept mostly out of the public eye.

JAIME VALDEZ/PORTLAND TRIBUNE - (File photo) Gov. Kate BrownGov. Kate Brown's delivers her speeches in English, but the governor speaks another less professed language, Spanish.

The governor was born on a U.S. military base in Spain but grew up mostly in Minnesota.

Alan Holland, vice chairman of Polk County Democratic Party of Oregon, remembers seeing Brown at a Thursday Spanish conversation group at the Oregon State Library in Salem, back when she was secretary of state.

"When she joined the group, she said: 'I am Kate Brown. I work for the state,'" Holland recalled. She never mentioned that she was second in line to the governor, he noted.

"Her Spanish is better than mine, and I have spent months in Costa Rica."

It's unclear whether the governor is fluent in Spanish or possesses only basic skills.

Her press office did not return a phone call Thursday seeking more information.

Her campaign manager, Thomas Wheatley said: "I have never heard anybody say that the governor is fluent in Spanish nor have I heard her say that."

Speaking Spanish could be a useful political tool, if the governor runs for reelection in 2018. The Latino population represented about 12.8 percent in 2016, compared with 11.7 percent in 2010, according to U.S. Census estimates.