Could Oregon Actually Elect a Republican Governor? Yes, if Nike Co-Founder Phil Knight Has His Way

Jaime Valdez/Pamplin Media Group via AP, Pool

Blue Oregon hasn’t elected a Republican governor in 40 years. That could be about to change. Republican Christine Drazan is facing off against Democrat Tina Kotek and Independent Betsy Johnson in the gubernatorial race.


In August, the University of Virginia Center for Politics Sabato’s Crystal Ball moved the race from “Lean Democratic” to “Toss-Up.” And, as we noted in early October:

While the political chattering class devotes countless hours this week to debating Herschel Walker, something is happening in Oregon and political prognosticators should be paying attention. Weeks out from a major midterm election, FiveThirtyEight shows the Republican candidate for governor winning there.

Those predictions will come to fruition if Nike co-founder Phil Knight has any say in it.  Fox News reports:

Nike co-founder Phil Knight says he will do anything to block Democrats from keeping their hold on Oregon’s gubernatorial seat Saturday.

Knight, 84, has poured cash into the campaigns of Democrat Tina Kotek’s opponents in the governors race. He helped to kickstart a campaign from Betsy Johnson, a former Democrat running as an independent, who is serving as a major spoiler for Kotek.

Johnson’s candidacy is giving Republican Christinze Drazan the opportunity she needs in a liberal electorate no longer confident in the state’s recent far-left policies.

Drazan, 50, was first elected to the Oregon state house in 2018, then re-elected in 2020. She served as minority leader from 2019 to 2021. She’s focused her campaign on issues like crime and homelessness. Her campaign website declares her “A fighter, through-and-through.”


As the Republican Leader, she took on the entrenched politicians and powerful special interests that control our state government. Christine fought to reopen schools and to end Governor Brown’s emergency orders that shut down Oregon’s economy. When Kate Brown and Tina Kotek tried to dramatically raise energy and gas prices on Oregon’s families and businesses, Christine led Republicans in walking out of the building to put a stop to it. When they wanted billions of dollars in new taxes, Christine stood up for Oregonians time and again by voting no. And when Kate Brown and Tina Kotek cheered while Portland burned, Christine condemned the violent rioters and defended law enforcement.

Now, Christine is ready to continue the fight by bringing fresh leadership and real change to the Governor’s office. As our next Governor, she will continue to challenge the status quo in Salem, to fight for what is best for working families and to restore some common sense to our State Capitol.

Drazan’s Twitter feed exudes that fighting spirit:


How close is the race?

Oregon has not elected a Republican governor since 1982, but polls show Drazan with a solid chance of taking the election. An Oct. 13 polling average from FiveThirtyEight has Drazan at a 3-point lead over Kotek, with 37.4% and 34.3% respectively. Meanwhile, Johnson sits at just 16.4% support.

The Real Clear Politics average has Drazan with a three-point advantage. She has an appealing message. With an assist from Knight’s contribution, Drazan appears to have the financial wherewithal to finish the race strong.


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