An anti-abortion Republican has a legitimate chance to become Oregon’s governor, a position Democrats have controlled for more than 40 years.
Democratic-turned-independent Betsy Johnson has siphoned a sizable slice of support from Democratic nominee, Tina Kotek. That, along with bundles of bucks from billionaire Phil Knight have Republican nominee Christinze Drazan well positioned with about three weeks before Election Day.
Polls followed by Real Clear Politics indicate Ms. Drazan leads her opponents by an average 3 percentage points.
“The only thing you can say about that is they are scared, they are desperate,” Ms. Drazan told a crowd of hunters at a campaign rally this week in the eastern foothills of Oregon’s Coast Range.
Johnson, a former helicopter pilot, served as a Democratic Party spoiler, a la Joe Manchin, for 20 years before leaving the party last year.
Mr. Knight, the billionaire co-founder of Nike, Oregon’s largest employer, initially backed Ms. Johnson. He donated $3.7 million to her campaign at the outset of the campaign period, according to a New York Times report.
Despite the infusion of cash from Knight, Johnson never seemed to gain traction with voters. She pulled enough votes from the Democrat nominee but not enough to lead the Republican. The billionaire reportedly became frustrated with state government politics that were too far to the left for his taste. Knight switched candidates this month, donating $1 million to Drazan’s campaign.
The Nike founder said in a Thursday interview he would do whatever he could to stop Kotek from becoming governor. He described himself as “an anti-Tina person”, according to the Times report, which added Knight said he has never spoken with Drazan.
“One of the political cartoons after our legislative session had a person snorting cocaine out of a mountain of white,” Mr. Knight said. “It said, ‘Which of these is illegal in Oregon?’ And the answer was the plastic straw.”
Drazan portrays herself as a moderate Republican, focusing on the issues of crime and homelessness.
“Tina Kotek and Betsy Johnson have been driving Kate Brown’s agenda for years,” Drazan said in a political ad, referring to the current Governor Kate Brown, a Democrat. “They’ve led Oregon down the wrong path.”
“Tina and Betsy haven’t fixed anything,” she continued. “In fact, they’ve made things worse.”