Last week, the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) spent over $1 million on the gubernatorial election in the deep-blue state of Oregon after polling suggested that the race there has become a tossup.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, the DGA gave $1.25 million to the campaign of Democratic nominee Tina Kotek, former Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, who is running to succeed the term-limited incumbent Kate Brown (D-Ore.). As a result of this latest massive contribution, the DGA has now spent over $3 million on Kotek’s campaign this year.
The status of the Oregon gubernatorial race was shifted from “Leans Democrat” to “Tossup” by the Cook Political Report on Friday, primarily due to the presence of a major third-party candidate: Former State Senator Betsy Johnson, a former Democrat who is now running as an independent. Despite having been a more moderate Democrat during her time in the state legislature, Johnson is nevertheless widely expected to draw many votes that otherwise would have gone for Kotek, which will benefit Republican nominee Christine Drazan, former Minority Leader of the Oregon House of Representatives.
Kotek is also proving unpopular due to her past stances on crime and the race riots of 2020, where she openly voiced her support for the rioters even as they destroyed businesses and assaulted civilians in the streets in Portland, the state’s largest city; the violence continued into 2021 even after most of the large-scale riots died down, with the city of Portland seeing its highest rates of violence in years, including the largest number of homicides in modern history. Governor Brown’s similar refusal to crack down on the violence has led to a decline in her popularity, tainting the Democratic brand in the state heading into the November election.
In response to the news of the latest contributions by the DGA, both the campaigns of Johnson and Drazan acknowledged that Democrats are in trouble in a state that has consistently voted blue in every presidential election since 1988. A Johnson campaign spokeswoman said that Democrats are panicking over the fact that Oregon is now “a state they can’t afford to lose but can’t figure out how to win,” while Drazan’s campaign issued a statement declaring that “national Democrats are hitting the panic button because they have a weak candidate and failed leader as their nominee.”
Two of the most recent polls in the race – from the polling firms Cygnal and Clout Research, respectively – both show Drazan with a one-point lead over Kotek, with Johnson polling in the low-20s. A Republican has not won the governorship of Oregon since 1982.