State Sen. Betsy Johnson, Independent Candidate for Oregon Governor, Raises More Than $2 Million

It’s a show of force by a candidate charting an unusual path to Mahonia Hall.

State Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) at a Timber Unity rally early in 2020. (Justin Katigbak) (Justin Katigbak/Justin Katigbak)

State Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose), who has served as a Democrat in Salem for 20 years but is raising money for an independent campaign for governor, today disclosed $2,051,157 in new donations.

It’s Johnson’s first major filing since announcing last month that she planned to run for the state’s highest office. Coming into this year, she already had $524,000 in her campaign account and now has about $2.3 million on hand.

Among Democratic candidates, former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has raised the most money so far, with $1.24 million; Dr. Bud Pierce is the leading GOP fundraiser at $753,000 this year.

Johnson’s largest donor so far: The Papé Group, a Eugene-based heavy equipment dealer, which gave $250,000. Her second-largest donor is a Massachusetts-based petroleum merchant, Global Companies, which gave $160,000.

That out-of-state donation is an outlier. Most donors were from Oregon.

Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle gave $125,000. Also notable: Harsch Investments, the real estate company of Jordan Schnitzer, gave $100,000, as did businessman Peter Stott. Greg Goodman, whose family is one of Portland’s largest property owners, gave $50,000.

Some of the smaller donors also provide insight into the bipartisan nature of Johnson’s backers: Mike Bonetto, a former chief of staff to Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, gave $1,000. Mike Thorne, onetime executive director of the Port of Portland and a longtime Democratic legislative leader from Pendleton, also gave $1,000. Kerry Tymchuk, executive director of the Oregon Historical Society and a former state director for U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), gave $2,500, and Antoinette Hatfield, widow of late U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.), gave $250.

The donations represent a significant show of force for a gubernatorial campaign. The challenge for independents has always been fundraising. But with her first disclosure, Johnson has shown she can not only attract money from both Democrats and Republicans, but she can do so in the large increments that will be necessary to compete with the winners of the partisan primaries.

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