Republicans haven’t won an Oregon gubernatorial election in 40 years, and 2022 represents their best chance in a very long time to change that.
That’s in part because a well-funded, now-unaffiliated former Democrat is running for the office too, so the winning candidate only needs a plurality, not a majority, of votes cast to win.
But a third major candidate also presents a challenge for Republicans. In an election in which voters appear to be looking for an outsider or someone who will change the direction of the state, the Republican nominee has to find a convincing argument for choosing them over former state Sen. Betsy Johnson, who represented Scappoose as a Democrat for two decades.
In an endorsement interview with WW for the Republican nomination for governor, former state Rep. Christine Drazan (R-Canby) previewed the kind of argument that the GOP nominee might make: that Republicans are better positioned to hold the state accountable for the failings of the current moment.
She argued that Johnson’s astronomical fundraising totals ($6.4 million so far) show that the onetime Scappoose Democrat has failed to lead and shape the direction of the state before now.
“She could have been helping recruit and elect moderate Democrats all these years,” Drazan tells WW in the clip. “Instead, she has maintained the position that her party has left her and is broken. She was in a position to fix it.”
It’s not clear that Drazan will be the one to represent her party. Among the 19 other candidates vying for the Republican nomination: Dr. Bud Pierce (his party’s gubernatorial nominee in 2016), former state Rep. Bob Tiernan, Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam, and conservative writer Bridget Barton. And polls suggest most voters remain undecided, even as ballots are scheduled to arrive in voters’ mailboxes in less than two weeks.