Man, These Oregon Gov Candidates Who Aren't Tina Kotek Sure Do Suck!
The Oregon governor's race is just six weeks away, and most polls show all three candidates have an even shot at winning. That's Democrat Tina Kotek (yay!), "independent" Betsy Johnson (boo!), and forced-birth Republican Christine Drazan (holy shit!)
However, an independent poll commissioned by The Oregonian shows a tight, two-person race with Drazan, the former state House Republican leader, narrowly but still decisively ahead with 32 percent of the vote. Kotek, the former state speaker of the House, is close but no cigar in the governor's office with 31 percent. Former Democrat and now unaffiliated spoiler candidate Johnson brings up the rear with 18 percent.
Johnson is drawing both Republican and Democratic-leaning voters, but it seems she's damaging Kotek more significantly. For example, Democratic incumbent Gov. Kate Brown won re-election in 2018 with 50 percent of the vote against failed craft goatee-grower Knute Buehler. Kotek is polling almost 20 points below the average Democratic nominee of the past few decades.
A small ray of hope is the 1990 governor's race, which was also a three-way competition. Democrat Barbara Kay Roberts won with 45 percent of the vote against Republican David Frohnmayer, who had 40 percent. Independent Al Mobley managed just 13 percent of the vote.
Kotek and her two awful opponents faced off in Bend, Oregon, Tuesday for a contentious debate. Earlier in the day, Kotek had shared a video on Twitter where she asked, "Want a right-wing Oregon?" The answer is no, we do not, and Kotek supports her argument with chilling footage of the January 6 insurrection, as well as the right-wing mob that stormed the Oregon statehouse during a legislative session in December 2020. (Republican state Rep. Mike Nearman had accidentally on purpose let them inside.)
\u201cBoth @ChristineDrazan and @SenBetsyJohnson are too right right-wing for Oregon\u201d— Tina Kotek (@Tina Kotek) 1664295030
Kotek was the only candidate at the debate who said she'd support a gun safety measure banning high capacity magazines, which will appear on the November ballot. Bend was the scene of a mass shooting at a supermarket just last month. The gunman killed two people with his death machine before fatally shooting himself. The ballot measure would require that you qualify for a permit before purchasing a gun. Yes, that makes this one of the strictest gun measures in the nation, but that's a damning statement about the country's lax gun laws not a logical reason to oppose the measure.
Drazan and Johnson are both pro-gun and would likely veto any sensible gun safety legislation. Johnson has already said she'd pull a Manchin/Sinema and veto any legislation that lacked "bipartisan support," thus handing the Republican minority a permanent veto. Democrats ain't passing shit during a Drazan or Johnson administration.
At the debate, Drazan repeated some nonsensical, NRA-approved talking points: “What happened in Bend was an absolute tragedy. Someone facing extreme mental health challenges was intent on hurting others and was effectively able to do so ... but more gun laws will not prevent every single tragedy from happening."
The shooter was an obvious incel but there's no evidence he suffered from "extreme mental health challenges." As Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and Ron DeSantis demonstrate daily, being an asshole is a character flaw not a mental defect.
Drazan also whined that Johnson and Kotek were unfairly attacking her just because she opposed reproductive freedom. They're trying to "distract and divide" with facts! She insisted that as governor she'd follow the law, while presumably winking like Lucille Bluth. Kotek called out her bullshit and reminded folks that the governor is kinda important.
“When she says, ‘I’ll just follow the law,’ a governor can do a lot of damage even if there’s a law on the books: stopping agencies, not being a champion, not moving resources to help Oregonians," Kotek said. "So you cannot trust that statement.”
Drazan countered that Oregon's abortion laws, which she'd totally follow, are “among the most extreme in the nation." Bodily autonomy is not an "extreme" position. She also made clear she'd yank Oregon from the current West Coast Offense for abortion access. She claimed that Oregon providing grants to abortion providers to help cope with increased demand from out-of-state patients is state-funded “abortion tourism.” That is perhaps the worst thing anyone could say until another Republican somewhere speaks.
Yeah, desperate people from right-wing fascist states seeking a safe abortion in Oregon are just "tourists." After their abortion, they can stop by OMSI and Powell's. Maybe grab lunch at one of Portland's finest food truck pods. Christine Drazan can go straight to hell, and Betsy Johnson can carry her luggage.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."