Democrats Pour Over $1M Into Oregon Governor’s Race As Blue State Becomes Toss-Up

Democrat Tina Kotek is locked in tight race with Republican, independent challengers

Tina Kotek / Getty Images
September 19, 2022

The Democratic Governors Association poured over a million dollars into the Oregon governor’s race last week, its largest contribution yet in the state.

The Association on Thursday contributed $1.25 million to Democratic candidate Tina Kotek, the Willamette Week reported, bringing the group’s total contributions to more than $3 million for Kotek this year. The news comes as the Cook Political Report on Friday shifted its Oregon gubernatorial race prediction from "Leans Democrat" to "Toss-Up."

Kotek faces an uphill battle as the left-wing candidate in Oregon, where voters are concerned about rising violent crime. Last year, Portland had the most homicides in its history. When she served as state House speaker, Kotek sided with rioters who damaged local businesses and flung rocks, bottles, and fireworks at police during Portland’s summer 2020 protests.

Kotek’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Kotek is seeking to distance herself from her opponents, independent candidate Betsy Johnson and Republican Christine Drazan, as they are locked in a three-way race. The Democratic Governors Association has drawn attention to both Johnson’s and Drazan’s "A" rating from the NRA, as well as Johnson’s courting of GOP megadonors.

Johnson campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Sitton told the Washington Free Beacon that the association’s donations to Kotek show "Democrats are going to back up the Brinks trucks to Oregon—a state they can’t afford to lose but can’t figure out how to win."

A spokesman for Drazan’s campaign echoed those remarks.

"National Democrats are hitting the panic button because they have a weak candidate and failed leader as their nominee," John Burke told the Free Beacon. "Tina Kotek was [Governor] Kate Brown's top enabler and Oregonians know she's responsible for massive homelessness, rising violent crime, and a continuing affordability crisis."

A 2021 Morning Consult poll found Oregon’s Kate Brown had the lowest approval rating of any governor. Brown has endorsed Kotek’s campaign.

Johnson is pitching herself as a moderate, but served as a Democrat alongside Kotek in the Oregon legislature since the mid-2000s. She voted with Kotek on progressive bills to decriminalize drugs and reduce incarceration, the Free Beacon reported.

The Democratic Governors Association has come under fire this year for helping Trump-favored candidates win GOP primaries. In June, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D.) and the group spent $32 million to help Illinois state senator Darren Bailey beat a moderate black Republican for the gubernatorial nomination.