PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Oregon will elect a new governor in November and the latest poll shows a close race underway between the Republican and Democrat nominees in the contest.
An independent poll commissioned by The Oregonian shows Republican nominee Christine Drazan, the former state House Republican leader, with 32% of the vote and Democrat nominee Tina Kotek, the former state Speaker of the House, with 31% of the vote. Betsy Johnson, the unaffiliated candidate and a former Democratic lawmaker, received 18% of the vote in the poll.
The poll of 600 likely voters was conducted by DHM Research of Portland.
Political observers told KOIN 6 News the candidates are trying to figure out exactly what voters care about most in the final weeks leading up to Election Day.
“Many voters are going to vote on more bread-and-butter economic issues like gas prices, inflation, crime, and those are issues that Christine Drazan and the Republican side are really leaning into as areas that they have a political advantage on,” said Lewis & Clark College political science professor Ben Gaskins. “So, it’ll be interesting to see to what degree Kotek keeps her message really aligned with those issues that Democrats are favored on or if she really speaks to those bread-and-butter kitchen table economic issues.”
The three leading candidates in the governor’s race were in a debate in Bend on Wednesday night where the candidates discussed key issues such as gun control, abortion and homelessness.
Drazan is trying to become the first Republican governor in Oregon in more than 35 years. According to the poll, Drazan has solidified her base more than Kotek who is especially challenged by Johnson.
In reaction to the poll, Drazan’s campaign released a statement saying “our state is ready for a new direction and voters increasingly recognize Christine as the only candidate who will deliver. We are excited about the momentum we are seeing and will continue to run hard through Election Day.”
Kotek’s campaign said the other candidates would move Oregon to the far-right on issues such as abortion rights and preventing gun violence.
Political observers say it is a challenging time for Democrats as they face a midterm election with the economy wavering and an unpopular Democratic governor.
In a campaign email, Johnson said “while the polls may say we are down, I love Oregon too much to surrender to cynicism. We may be playing from behind, but so is Oregon. I’m not running for Miss Congeniality, I intend to hold Tina Kotek accountable for her dangerous, far-left record and I won’t stop fighting for Oregon’s future until the last vote is counted.”
There are still plenty of voters who are undecided, which is why Oregonians are seeing many political ads and getting a lot of door knocks as well.