Tina Kotek Holds Slight Lead Over Drazan in Oregon Governor’s Race

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By Julia Shumway

Oregon’s race for governor remained too close to call Tuesday night.

The latest count has Democrate Tina Kotek with a narrow 14,000 vote lead over Republican Christine Drazan with more than 1.3 million votes counted. Non-affiliated candidate Betsy Johnson was a distant third.

Kotek took the stage at the Democratic Party of Oregon’s party at a Hyatt hotel in Portland at 11 p.m., telling supporters that Oregon laws that expand voter access are good for democracy but mean Oregonians need to be patient on election night. Democrats expect that ballots postmarked by Election Day will favor Democratic candidates because of the party’s get-out-the vote efforts.

“I know that everyone is anxious for this race to be called,” she said. “Believe me, I am too, but the reality is the race is just too close to call tonight. I am optimistic about the numbers, but it’s still too close.”

Drazan also addressed supporters at the Oregon Gardens in Silverton late Tuesday night, telling them that they always knew the race would be tight.

“We know that when the results are all counted and all the results are in, we will in fact lead Oregon in a new direction,” she said. “But we’re not there yet.”

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 governor. (Massachusetts Democrat Maura Healey, who won Tuesday, could also claim that last distinction.)

For the complete story, see the Oregon Capital Chronicle.