Thomas Lauderdale Hosts Soiree for Betsy Johnson

“I’m 52, but I still vote with my heart, not for the lesser of two evils.”

Former state Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) has watched her unaffiliated candidacy for governor sink in the polls over the past month. So it was surprising to see an invitation to an Oct. 23 cocktails-and-ice cream fundraiser for Johnson at the home of Pink Martini bandleader Thomas Lauderdale.

“Whenever I hear her speak, I think: She should be the governor,” Lauderdale tells WW. “She has the mouth of trucker but the heart of a true trailblazing Oregonian. I don’t agree with all of her positions, but I don’t have to, necessarily.”

Co-hosts of the Sunday event included former Gov. Ted Kulongoski, Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle, high-powered divorce lawyer Jody Stahancyk and onetime state Sen. Margaret Carter (D-Portland)—all figures sophisticated enough to read poll results that suggest Johnson has no chance of winning and disproportionately takes votes away from Democratic nominee Tina Kotek.

Lauderdale, whose band held a 2011 concert to support Occupy Portland and backed former City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, is often aligned with progressives. He tells WW he planned to host an event for Johnson earlier in the campaign, but was busy touring with Pink Martini and organizing a campaign against Portland’s charter reform measure.

Lauderdale says he’s gotten wind of backlash among his typical allies, but the reports are secondhand: ”I’ve heard there’s outrage but nobody’s calling me directly.” He says he’s not worried that a vote for Johnson could boost Republican nominee Christine Drazan’s prospects.

“There’s no compelling reason for Tina Kotek,” Lauderdale says. “It’s all about fear of Drazan. I’m 52, but I still vote with my heart, not for the lesser of two evils.”