PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Chair of the Yamhill County Commissioners, Casey Kulla, announced Wednesday he’s dropping his bid for Oregon governor and will instead run for Oregon labor commissioner in 2022. 

In a statement, Kulla said he decided to change his political aspirations after learning Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle is planning to run for Congress. 

“I realized that Oregon needs a strong leader in this important position — now more than ever — as our state continues to recover from a disruptive pandemic,” he wrote. 

In an email to KOIN 6 News, Kulla said if elected, his priorities will be to pass the Future Ready Oregon package to expand apprenticeships and support an independent, effective and responsible Bureau of Labor and Industries. 

Kulla wrote in his statement that Oregon needs to continue having quality jobs, economic opportunities and a thriving partnership between the private and public sectors. He wants to make sure every Oregon worker has a safe workplace and access to healthcare and wants the state to be a place where people can afford to live where they work. 

Kulla said his experience as both a worker, small business owner and employer qualifies him for the position and noted his time as a Yamhill County commissioner has given him opportunities to work with labor unions, businesses, workers and the chamber of commerce. 

“Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far in this election season,” Kulla wrote. “I hope you will join me in full enthusiasm in this pivot.” 

Kulla was running for Oregon governor as a Democrat. He was born and raised in Lincoln City before starting his farm in Yamhill County. He earned a master’s degree in forest ecology and a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Western Washington University. In his campaign for governor, Kulla said he’d like to focus on building a better, more affordable healthcare system in Oregon. 

The Oregon commissioner of labor and industries is a non-partisan, elected state position.