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Oregon House Speaker Talks Redistricting, Ivanka And More At The DNC

David Miller/OPB

Oregon state House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, strongly endorsed Hillary Clinton during a speech Monday at the Democratic National Convention. She also wants to encourage people to vote in legislative elections. 

Kotek spoke to OPB’s Think Out Loud about why state politics matter. 

On Making A Difference

Kotek said that voting down the ballot can change national policies.

“What’s happening at the state capitols is really changing the face of this country,” she said. “You can use the states as laboratories, try things out.”

Oregon voted to raise the minimum wage earlier this year, adding to the momentum that has propelled the issue to the national stage. Kotek says she wants to keep the issue of workers’ rights alive in Oregon.

“One of the things we’re going to be talking about next year is promoting a fair workweek, predictive scheduling,” she said. “That might be something that makes more sense for states to try before the federal government steps in and makes it a policy for the entire country.”

On Winning Back The Country

Democrats have lost ground in state governments in recent years. Oregon is one of seven states with full Democratic control in both the legislature and the governor’s office. 

“When chambers flipped to Republican control in 2010 and 2014, it was bad for the people in those states,” said Kotek.

She blames redistricting and low voter turnout. “In 2010 a lot of people stayed home. They didn’t vote and they need to vote,” she said. 

On Ivanka Trump

Last week in her speech at the Republican National Convention, Ivanka Trump highlighted the need for affordable childcare. Despite Hillary Clinton’s work on similar issues through the Children’s Defense Fund, Kotek says she does not see the Trumps as allies.

“Ivanka Trump is coming late to the party,” she said. “I’m dubious because of the divisiveness and fear mongering coming out of the Trump campaign. One speech from one person at the convention is not going to change my mind that the best person for the White House is Hillary Clinton.”  

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