Associated Press Calls Oregon Governor’s Race for Tina Kotek

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Oregon Gubernatorial Candidate, Tina Kotek, delivers a victory speech at Salmon Springs in downtown Portland. (Photo by Jordan Gale)

By Julia Shumway

Democrat Tina Kotek, the former speaker of the Oregon House, has fended off Republican Christine Drazan and nonaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson and will be Oregon’s next governor.

The Associated Press called the race in Kotek’s favor Thursday evening, after several counties reported of tens of thousands of outstanding ballots. Kotek’s lead over Drazan has continued to grow over the past several days as more votes were reported from Multnomah County, the state’s most populous and where Kotek won more than 70% of the vote.

Earlier on Thursday, before a crowd of supporters and reporters at the Portland waterfront, Kotek claimed victory and pledged to focus first on addressing homelessness.

“I am honored and humbled by this opportunity to serve, and I will strive every day to be a force for positive change in our state,” Kotek said. “Now the election is over, and the really hard work begins.”

Drazan declined to concede during the day Thursday, saying she was exercising caution as county clerks continued to count ballots.

The race presented Oregon voters with three choices: Drazan, who portrayed her campaign as an opportunity for change; Kotek, who labeled herself a “proven progressive fighter,” and Johnson, a self-described “equal opportunity pisser-offer” who pledged to be loyal only to the people of Oregon.

Each candidate set out to make history: Drazan as the state’s first Republican governor since the 1980s, Johnson as Oregon’s first independent governor since the 1930s and Kotek as one of the nation’s first openly lesbian governors. (Massachusetts Democrat Maura Healey, who won Tuesday, is the other.)

The race was also the most expensive in Oregon’s history: By Election Day, Kotek had raised nearly $27 million; Drazan, $22 million and Johnson, $15 million. They had spent a combined $64 million, and those figures aren’t yet final. Candidates have seven days after the date of a transaction to report it.

And it brought national attention. As of Oct. 31, the Democratic Governors Association had spent more than $7 million on the race between direct contributions to Kotek and contributions to political action committees dedicated to tearing down Johnson and Drazan. The Republican Governors Association had given Drazan more than $7 million as of Nov. 7.

For the complete story, see the Oregon Capital Chronicle.