Two Former GOP Candidates Split Over General Election Endorsements

Bridget Barton endorses Betsy Johnson; Mayor Stan Pulliam goes for Christine Drazan.

The unusual three-way race for governor in November is likely to foster unusual alliances. The first of those emerged this week as Bridget Barton, the GOP political consultant turned candidate for governor, endorsed the unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson.

That endorsement is interesting because Barton, who edited the conservative magazine BrainstormNW and has helped run the Third Century Solutions and the Transformation Project, two right-leaning political organizations, is a staunch conservative.

In a video Barton posted on Twitter, she said she didn’t trust the GOP nominee, former House Minority Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) “to stand and fight when the going gets tough.” Barton said she plans to lead a group called “Republicans for Betsy.”

Barton’s announcement led to a response from Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam, who, like Barton, got just over 10% of the vote in the Republican primary for governor.

Until the eventual second-place finisher in the GOP primary, former lawmaker Bob Tiernan, entered the primary later than most other candidates, Barton and Pulliam were vying be the leading conservative candidate in the field. (Tiernan finished with 17.47%, Pulliam with 10.87% and Barton with 10.81%.)

Pulliam joined the 2016 GOP nominee, Dr. Bud Pierce, in endorsing Drazan this week (Pierce got 8.72% of the vote this May). The significance of the jousting between Barton and Pulliam over Drazan is that party unification, which Drazan’s backers are counting on to push her past Johnson and the Democratic nominee, former House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), is far from guaranteed.

Barton and her business partner at Third Century Solutions, Jim Pasero, have shown an ability to raise big money in the past. Among their donors are people whose money Drazan would like to have. One example: Barton ran her campaign with strong support—$375,000—from members of the Freres family, who operate Freres Lumber Co. Inc. and have been one of the biggest GOP contributors in recent cycles. None of them has contributed to Drazan since her run for the Legislature in 2018.