The Oregon Nurses Association Gives Democrat Tina Kotek a Gift for New Year

The House speaker won’t be able to raise money for her run for governor during legislative session.

HOW MUCH?

$50,000

WHO GOT IT?

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland)

WHO GAVE IT?

The Oregon Nurses Association on Dec. 30.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Kotek, the longest-serving House speaker in Oregon history (she’s held that spot since 2013), entered the Democratic primary for governor as a strong favorite. But facing a combination of voters’ disdain for the status quo and unexpectedly strong fundraising by newcomer Nicholas Kristof, Kotek has gotten off to a slow start bankrolling her campaign, trailing the haul of not only Kristof but, for most of the fall, the other leading Democratic candidate, State Treasurer Tobias Read. Kotek also faces a disadvantage neither of her opponents need consider: House rules prohibit members from asking for money while the Legislature is in session, which it will be for up to 35 days starting Feb. 1.

In a normal year, labor support for Kotek would be a given, but United Food & Commercial Workers Local 555 threw its support and a $75,000 check to Kristof, so getting the nod from another group of frontline workers is a nice win for Kotek.

WHAT DO THE NURSES SAY?

The $50,000 check is the second largest the nurses have written since forming their political action committee in 2008 (only a $60,000 check to Gov. John Kitzhaber in 2010 was larger). ONA spokesman Kevin Mealy says the organization interviewed all three leading candidates, but found Kotek the most compelling. “Oregon’s next governor has the opportunity to address the many generational crises Oregonians are facing—including the COVID-19 pandemic, public health, homelessness, racism and climate change. We need a proven leader from day one.”