Democrats have controlled the governor’s mansion in Oregon for almost 40 years, but 2022 looks to be a good year for Oregon Republicans.
Christine Drazan is the Republican nominee for governor and is making national headlines with her statewide campaign. Growing up in rural southeast Oregon, Drazan was elected in 2019 to represent the 39th District and then was elected by her Republican colleagues as minority leader just nine months later.
The race for governor pits Drazan against former Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and independent Democrat Betty Johnson. A strong campaign from Drazan and a split among Democrats could be enough to turn the Beaver State red.
Drazan has captured momentum by pledging to solve crime and homelessness and support working families by increasing economic growth. She addresses this with a “roadmap for Oregon’s future” that details policies to combat the destruction under Gov. Kate Brown. Fully funding state police, expanding mental health services, and repealing the legalization of heroin and methamphetamine are steps in the right direction to make Oregon a functional state again.
Recently, Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland supported Drazan as a representative of the Republican Governor’s Association. The RGA has spent close to $1.6 million on her campaign. Hogan compared his upset victory in Maryland in 2014 to Drazan’s campaign. “You can change a state when people get to the point where they’re fed up, and I think that’s where your state is now,” he said.
In campaigning with Hogan, Drazan expressed her discontent with Oregon business owners dealing with rising crime and homeless encampments. A record number of homicides (91) in Portland, along with shootings tripling, have made crime the No. 1 issue for voters in the Portland metro area. “Under my administration, the days of treating police like criminals and criminals like victims will end. And when Portland politicians refuse to confront violent crime and bring peace to the streets, as governor, I will,” Drazan said.
Drazan’s focus on the issues is paying dividends for her. Polls show her neck and neck with Kotek and even leading within the margin of error. In a recent interview with Bill Hemmer and Dana Perino on “America’s Newsroom,” she discussed the momentum tilting the race in her direction. “We are up today, and I could not be more excited about where we stand right now in this race. We are leading in the polls, and Oregonians are ready for change,” Drazan said.
Democrats in Oregon hold an advantage over Republicans, with over 200,000 more registered voters. Still, with discontent directed at the country’s most unpopular governor, Kate Brown, that could change this November. “[Oregonians] don’t recognize their own state. … It used to be the most safe and certainly the most beautiful state in the nation, and that’s not the experience we have now,” Drazan said.
Drazan’s opponents have looked to slow down her momentum by attacking her pro-life views. Republican candidates across the country continue to struggle to communicate a pro-life message in the aftermath of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
In the first gubernatorial debate, Drazan responded to claims that she could pass sweeping abortion regulations unilaterally.
“Oregon has some of the most extreme laws on the books related to this issue, and I don’t think I’m at all out of line with Oregonians on this. Most Oregonians do not believe that taking a life in the third trimester — when, if that baby were born otherwise, it would be viewed as pre-term — that that is somehow a woman’s right. That’s just not accurate for Oregonians’ views on this issue. And so I am a pro-life woman, [but] this issue is in Oregon statute, and I have been very clear that I will abide by the law.”
Nate Hochman of National Review praised Drazan’s performance as how Republicans should run in blue states to win pro-abortion voters.
This is a strong example of how to run as a pro-life Republican in a deep-blue state.@ChristineDrazan—who could be Oregon’s first Republican governor since 1987—reaffirms her stance on life while neutering the attack that she could actually pass sweeping abortion restrictions: pic.twitter.com/7jhVhTgGrR
— Nate Hochman (@njhochman) September 3, 2022
With less than two months to go, Cook Political Report has moved the Oregon gubernatorial race to a toss-up. “No race for governor has been more surprising than Oregon,” the report stated. The Republican Party continues to spend as they see an upset.
“The momentum is on our side!” Drazan exclaimed in a tweet.