After Closer Than Expected Race, Democrat Will Be Oregon Governor

Republicans had hoped to win governorship in the state for first time in 40 years
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 10, 2022 10:43 PM CST
Democrat Wins Oregon Governor's Race
Oregon Republican gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan speaks to supporters in Silverton, Ore., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.   (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

Tina Kotek has been elected Oregon’s next governor, extending longtime Democratic control of the state and dashing Republican hopes for a rare win in a top race on the West Coast of the United States, the AP reports. Kotek joins Maura Healey of Massachusetts as the first openly lesbian elected governors in the United States. “It is an absolute honor,” Kotek said. “I can tell you that being who I am is important to Oregonians across the state. Lots of young people have come up to me and said thank you for running and thank you for being who you are.” The former longtime speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives had faced a stiff challenge from Republican Christine Drazan, who is also an ex-legislator.

Kotek stood in front of a fountain in Portland Thursday morning a few steps from the Willamette River and told an invitation-only crowd of reporters and supporters displaying her campaign signs that she was ready to get to work. She said she plans to travel around Oregon starting in January to talk to community leaders about issues facing the state, particularly the shortage of affordable housing and addiction. She said her priorities are addressing homelessness, expanding access to mental health and addiction treatment and working to bridge the divisions in the state. Kotek told reporters she has spoken with Drazan and Johnson, a former state senator who ran as an unaffiliated candidate and who conceded Tuesday night.

Johnson’s wild-card presence in the race had buoyed GOP hopes they could win an Oregon governor’s race for the first time in 40 years and break Democrats’ dominance of statewide races in Oregon, California, and Washington state. Kotek was the longest serving Oregon House speaker. Drazan is a former leader of the Republican minority in the House. Democrats were so worried that they could lose the governorship that President Biden came to Portland to boost Kotek’s chances. Democrats warned that a Drazan victory could threaten abortion rights, environmental protections and democratically run elections in the state.

(More Oregon stories.)

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