SALEM &

Another Democratic state senator is vying to become secretary of state.




Rick Metsger of Welches announced his candidacy Tuesday after months of hinting he planned to run. He joins Democratic state Sens. Kate Brown of Portland, Brad Avakian of Beaverton and Vicki Walker of Eugene.




Republicans have yet to announce a candidate for any of the statewide offices open in 2008, which include attorney general and state treasurer.




Metsger said Tuesday that he'd draw on his background representing an urban-rural hybrid district that stretches from Clackamas Town Center to the Wasco County line.




If elected, he said, he'd highlight often overlooked responsibilities of the office, including the auditing function and the corporations division, which maintains a registry of the state's businesses.




"We have to make sure that the dollars are being spent as the Legislature intended," he said.




The secretary of state's job has traditionally been a springboard to the governor's office, and Metsger expressed interest in running for governor in 2006. But he said Tuesday that if elected as secretary of state, he'd serve out the four-year term.




Metsger, a former anchorman at KOIN-TV in Portland, was first elected to the Oregon Senate in 1998. He has focused on transportation, education and consumer advocacy issues.




The race offers Democrats their first contested secretary of state primary since 2002. Brown, the former Senate majority leader, has raised the most money so far, $148,000. Walker has raised $37,000, Avakian $18,500.




Vance Day, chairman of the Oregon GOP, said his party has recruited "a very strong candidate. An announcement will be made in the near future."




Republican Sen. Bruce Starr of Hillsboro has reportedly been considering a run.




In the meantime, Day said, Republicans will sit back and watch the Democrats fight among themselves.




"Isn't that beautiful?" he said. "There are four Democrats out there who will have a very pugilistic relationship over the next several months."




The secretary of state's office supervises the state's elections process, the vote-by-mail system and campaign finance reporting by elected state, county and municipal officials. It also has jurisdiction over statewide audits, and can have broad authority over redistricting, if lawmakers cannot agree on electoral boundaries.