Betsy Johnson Candidacy Divides Republicans

“In the end, it’s a secret ballot that matters.”

Former state Sen. Betsy Johnson, who represented Scappoose as a Democrat, is attempting to attract partisan loyalists to her independent run for governor, but among her Republican endorsers she’s navigating divided loyalties.

The campaign has removed two Republicans from its official list of endorsers: Rep. Jeff Helfrich (R-Cascade Locks), who last year donated $250 to Johnson and $175 to Republican gubernatorial candidate Stan Pulliam and did not respond to requests for comment, and former Rep. Cheri Helt (R-Bend), who told WW she’s opted to wait for the general election.

“I have had the honor and privilege of working with Sen. Johnson and Rep. Christine Drazan in the Legislature—two trailblazing women who fly with their own wings and have a history of defeating Tina Kotek’s bad policies by pushing back on the Portland elite,” Helt says. “I have an incredible amount of respect for each of these women, and I’m reserving my endorsement until after the primary.”

A third Republican endorser, former Secretary of State and onetime House Speaker Bev Clarno, is still among Johnson’s listed endorsements. But she tells WW she also endorsed Medford businesswoman Jessica Gomez in the Republican primary in addition to Johnson as an independent for the general election.

“We’ll happily list people as donors, endorsers or let them just be silent well-wishers if they’d like,” says Johnson campaign manager Emmet Duffy. “In the end, it’s a secret ballot that matters.”