Prominent law enforcement groups and the state’s leading crime victims’ rights organization have all endorsed Betsy Johnson in Oregon’s three-way race for governor.
The endorsements are a valuable chip in a year when Portland’s historically high murder rate and the soaring rate of automobile thefts have gotten widespread attention.
The Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association, Oregon Chiefs of Police Association, Fraternal Order of Police Oregon Lodge, Oregon Coalition of Police & Sheriffs, Eugene Police Employees’ Association and Crime Victims United of Oregon have all endorsed Johnson.
“Oregon desperately needs a governor who will make safety, fighting crime and supporting the rights of crime victims a top priority,” said Chris Bangs, president of the Oregon State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police. “That candidate is Betsy Johnson.”
Although Democrats and police organizations have a wary relationship, Democratic nominee Tina Kotek would in more normal times be a strong candidate to get support from the public safety labor unions.
Republican nominee Christine Drazan also got endorsements from the sheriffs, police chiefs and ORCOPS, who made dual picks. But with Johnson, a former Democratic state senator from Scappoose running as an unaffiliated candidate in a high-crime year, the dynamics are different.
Johnson has been a vocal skeptic of criminal justice reforms and Gov. Kate Brown’s decision to grant early release to many prisoners, as well as the implementation of Measure 110, the 2020 ballot measure that decriminalized the personal use of many hard drugs.
“We have to stop criminalizing the police while letting actual criminals roam the streets,” Johnson said. Polling suggests a larger than normal appetite among voters for somebody who talks tough on public safety.
“As governor, Betsy will put crime victims before criminals, end the dangerous early release of violent criminals from state prisons, stop efforts to further weaken mandatory sentencing for violent crimes and will work to repeal the failed policy of legalized hard drugs,” said Steve Doell, president of Crime Victims United.
This post has been updated to reflect that three organizations made dual endorsements.