National Democrats Write Biggest Check So Far in Oregon Governor’s Race to Tina Kotek

The national parties are pouring money into a race that nobody knows how to handicap.

PHOTO OPP: Tina Kotek smiles with supporters at Revolution Hall after early results point to her victory as the Democratic nominee for governor of Oregon. (Blake Benard)

The arms race to bankroll the next Oregon governor keeps escalating.

On Friday night, former House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) reported the largest single campaign contribution so far in the November governor’s contest: a $1.25 million check from the Democratic Governors Association. That donation, made Sept. 14, brings the national PAC’s funding of Kotek to $3.1 million.

“Thousands of Oregonians, as well as the Democratic Governors Association, have donated to Tina’s campaign because so much is on the line in November—defending abortion access, preventing gun violence, protecting our environment, and standing up for workers,” said Kotek’s campaign spokeswoman Katie Wertheimer in response to a request for comment on the DGA donation.

Kotek is in a tennis match of national donations with the GOP nominee, former House Minority Leader Christine Drazan of Canby, who has received $2.54 million from the Republican Governors Association. Twice, the national party has given Drazan a $1 million check.

The national parties are pouring money into a race that nobody knows how to handicap, thanks to the entrance of unaffiliated candidate and former state Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose), who is largely backed by business interests, including Nike co-founder Phil Knight.

Johnson, running as a moderate, is blanketing the television airwaves with ads saying she’ll both protect Oregonians from crime and defend abortion rights.

On Friday, the nonpartisan analysts at The Cook Political Report moved the race from “leans Democratic” to “toss-up,” signaling that even more cash will flow to Oregon as the parties seize on an unusual opportunity. Expect the next eight weeks of football games to be clogged with commercials for Kotek, Drazan and Johnson.

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