Red Oregon? Sabato's Crystal Ball Moves Governor's Race to Toss-Up

(AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)

A Republican could replace liberal Gov. Kate Brown (D-OR), as University of Virginia Center for Politics Sabato’s Crystal Ball has moved the race from “Lean Democratic” to “Toss-Up.”

Former Democratic state House Speaker Tina Kotek is running against former Republican State House Minority Leader Christine Drazan, who announced a seven-figure ad buy on Wednesday, Fox News reported. There is also a strong independent candidate, former Democratic state Sen. Betsy Johnson, who the University of Virginia Center for Politics describes as “more conservative” than many of her former party members. This three-way race that could split Democrats offers a pathway for Drazan to pull through.

From the Center for Politics:

Outgoing Gov. Kate Brown (D) is deeply unpopular, and there may be some desire for change in the Beaver State. Johnson, the independent, would still be the most surprising winner, and Kotek and Drazan both will be working to try to prevent their voters from flocking to her banner. There’s just enough uncertainty here that we’re looking at the race as a Toss-up now.

As this is a year when the political environment is favorable toward Republicans, this is a solid opportunity for Drazan to pull a Glenn Youngkin and flip the office. A Democrat has held the position since 1987, so this would bring a major shake-up to the state.

Oregon easily went to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, in which he won 56.9 percent of the statewide vote. It’s worth noting that although the counties that have population hubs like Portland, Salem, and Eugene, are heavily Democratic, the eastern and southern parts of the state largely backed Trump in 2020, according to Politico.

“Oregonians are ready for a new direction and we are ready to turn the page on one-party rule,” Drazan tweeted in response to the race shift announcement.

As Portland is known for being a hub of left-wing activism, it will be interesting to see how a potential conservative governorship will contrast with Mayor Ted Wheeler and other progressives. On the state level, Democrats dominate the state legislature with 18 senators and 37 representatives, compared to the Republicans with 11 senators and 23 representatives. Drazan would certainly act as a crucial stopping point for left-wing legislation, and it may force the Democrats to compromise more often than they would like.

 

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article referenced “western” Oregon, when eastern was intended. We regret the error. 

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