All Three Candidates for Governor Flex Fundraising Muscles

Kotek’s big haul brings her even with Drazan; Johnson garners key timber donor.

Money continues to flow into Oregon’s unusual three-way governor’s race in interesting ways.

The biggest donation of the week was $800,000 from the Democratic Governors Association to Democrat Tina Kotek. It, along with $100,000 checks from the Oregon Education Association and the Oregon Nurses Association, helped to bring Kotek even with her Republican rival, Christine Drazan.

It also shows that Democrats are taking very seriously the possibility that they could lose an Oregon governor’s race for the first time since 1982.

Both Kotek and Drazan have now raised just over $5 million since they began their campaigns last year, and after spending down their bankrolls in the May primary, they have nearly equal amounts on hand: Drazan is at $1.8 million and Kotek at $1.73 million.

Both women’s fundraising trails behind the third candidate in the race, former state Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose), who is running unaffiliated with any party. Johnson has now raised more than $10 million and has $4.6 million on hand, having enjoyed the benefit of not competing in a primary race.

Johnson continues to rake in big checks, reporting a $200,000 check from Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle last week. Boyle was an early supporter and has given Johnson a total of $466,000 since she began raising money.

Also significant: Johnson reported a contribution of $100,000 on July 28 from Robert Freres, president of Lyons-based Freres Lumber. Freres and his family and company gave GOP candidate Bridget Barton $300,000 in the primary, so his decision to support Johnson rather than Drazan is a victory for the unaffiliated candidate.

The wood products industry usually lines up behind the GOP nominee for governor—and Drazan continues to draw strong support, including $50,000 this week from Murphy Plywood of Eugene. But the Freres check shows how Johnson is affecting what is normally a two-party race. She and Drazan also split support from Associated General Contractors this week—the group gave each $100,000.