PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The four leading Republican candidates for governor faced off in a televised debate Thursday, hosted at 7 p.m. by KOIN 6 News and its media partner Pamplin Media Group.
Bud Pierce, Christine Drazan, Stan Pulliam and Bob Tiernan took part in the debate. They were selected from all the GOP candidates based on criteria set forth by Nexstar Broadcasting Inc, KOIN 6’s parent company. The debate will be hosted by KOIN 6 News anchor Jeff Gianola.
- Pierce, a 65-year-old oncologist and hematologist, was the 2016 Republican nominee for Oregon governor.
- Drazan served as the minority leader in the Oregon House before leaving her seat earlier this year to focus on her campaign.
- Pulliam currently serves as the mayor of Sandy.
- Tiernan is a former chair of the Oregon Republican Party and was a state lawmaker from 1993 to 1997.
KOIN 6 News live blogged the debate. Below are noteworthy comments made by the candidates and the times at which they said them.
7:01 Stan Pulliam says the discussion of transgender students should be talked about at home and not in schools.
7:03 If Christine Drazan said a decade of Democratic control has not created the utopian promised. She said Oregonians are looking for someone to step up and take on challenges that face the state. She believes Oregonians are open to a Republican governor stepping up and taking on the challenges.
7:04 Bud Pierce answers a question about what he’ll do about the homeless issue. He said the state needs to get people off the street and into shelters. He said many of these people suffer from drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness. He wants to support them through this to end their suffering.
7:05 Bob Tiernan responds to the same question and said the homeless issue is more than a statewide problem, it affects communities throughout the state. He said allowing people to live on the street creates more problems. He also said, “We need to put a stop to the riots,” even though riots were not a part of the question.
7:06 Pulliam said he’s the only candidate addressing the “criminal element of living on the street.” He said we need to triple the size of the state police. “We need to be tough with the criminal elements living on the street,” he said.
7:08 Drazan said we need to clear people off the street. She said people are experiencing drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness and that criminal acts sometimes go along with those things. She said we need to enforce ordinances that keep the streets clear, so people can walk on sidewalks and feel safe.
7:09 KOIN’s Lisa Balick asks Tiernan about how he lives in Oregon but also lives in California. Tiernan said Oregon is home and “go Beavers!” He said when he worked for Grocery Outlet, he spent a lot of time in the San Francisco Bay area. He said the only California election he’s participated in was a homeowners’ election.
7:11 Peter Wong asked Pulliam what he’s going to do about the Oregon legislature that he’s never participated in. Pulliam said as a mayor, he knows people at the ground level. He said he’s worked for a senator before and has worked in legislature in that way. He feels he’s the only person in the debate who’s worked on the state, regional and local level of politics.
7:12 Tiernan rebuts saying as chairman of the Oregon Republican party, he brought the party back to life. Tiernan said he’s worked for the state and federal government.
7:13 Drazan said in 2020 there were irregularities in the election across the nation. She said she was proud of the gains Republicans made in that election. She said she’s worked to ensure Oregon’s election system has integrity. She said fraudulent ballots that were turned in were not counted.
7:14 Pierce believes Joe Biden was elected president. He said more needs to be done about election integrity. He said he feels great about Oregon’s vote-by-mail system, but he’d like to see more oversight to it, so people have confidence in the result of the election.
7:15 Tiernan believes Biden was elected in 2020. He believes there was some bumbling and fraud in the 2020 election. He believes Trump lost the election because he lost Georgia.
7:16 Pulliam criticizes his opponents for saying “Biden, Biden, Biden.” He said the 2020 election was “absolutely fraudulent” and mentioned the cover-up of the Hunter Biden scandal.
7:17 Pierce is asked what his plan is if homeless people won’t go into a shelter. He said if people leave the shelter and end up in the public space again, that’s not OK. They’re breaking the law because there’s good help for them and people are choosing to live on the street. He said people will be placed in a locked shelter or will be incarcerated for a while.
7:19 Tiernan said after overseeing many employees, he said he’s learned he needs to treat employees well. He said state employees need to be paid fairly and have a good pension, but at the same time, we need to watch taxpayer dollars and do what is right for all of Oregon.
7:20 Pulliam said he’s against tolling on interstates. He said he’ll stand in the way of any proposed tolling that came his way. He thinks tolling is unfair without providing any additional lanes or improvements to the roads.
7:21 Drazan agrees congestion pricing cannot move forward. She said Oregon already pays a lot in taxes and that what we pay for our roads should already support our roads. She said families who can’t control when they take their kids to school or head to work would pay the price with tolls.
7:22 Pierce is also against tolling freeways. “We don’t pay for what we’ve already paid for,” he said. He said in the era of zero-polluting cars, we need more roads and bridges and that it’s already way too expensive for people to live in Oregon. He said tolls are a way to get out of building more road capacity.
7:23 Tiernan said tolling is another way the government is trying to collect more dollars. He agrees the roads are already paid for and people don’t need to pay for them again. He feels this will incentivize poorer people to stay home and will discourage people from coming to Portland because it will cost them to drive on the freeways. He believes the traffic problem needs to be solved, but this isn’t the way to solve it.
7:24 Drazan said if the Cap and Trade Bill had been allowed to go through, Oregonians would have seen their gas prices go up $3-$6. She said it was a California-style bill that had everything to do with growing government and growing taxes. She said the walkout to stop the bill was the right thing to do.
7:25 Pulliam argues that Drazan did not lead the walkout on the Cap and Trade Bill. He said senators led the walkout but Drazan, House minority leader at the time, stayed behind.
7:26 Drazan said, “This is how you know Pulliam has no experience inside the building and wasn’t there.” Drazan said she led the fight to stop the Cap and Trade Bill.
7:27 Pulliam said he was in a truck with the convoy, not in the chamber.
7:27 Balick asks Drazan if she’d walk out as governor. Drazan said Democrats need to get the governor’s signature. Having a Republican governor would force conversations and compromise.
7:28 Wong asks Pierce how he would prepare the state for another pandemic. Pierce said the state needs to be healthier, people need to eat better, avoid drugs and alcohol, and take care of their bodies. He said hospitals need more capacity.
7:30 Tiernan said he’d like to keep politics out of the classroom and said parents deserve to have a say in curriculum.
7:30 Pulliam said on day one he’ll ban critical race theory in schools and will prevent gender identity teachings in schools. He said we’re not going to look to ban books and will instead look to school choice, to allow parents to decide which school best suits what they want taught to their kids.
7:31 Drazan said this is not about banning books, it’s about taking politics out of the classroom. She wants to restore graduation requirements and expectations for students. She said she’s a mom of three kids and things have changed dramatically between when her oldest was in school to when her youngest was in school.
7:32 Pierce said there’s nothing more important to people starting on the bottom rungs of life than a good public education. He said what we need to do is copy states that get it right. He’s eying Massachusetts that has schools that are specialized and parents can decide where their students attend.
7:36 Pulliam says again he wants to triple the size of the Oregon State Police force. He said when he took over as mayor of Sandy, he found out the police department was more than $1 million in debt. He said he did what he needed to to help the police force and there are now more police officers on the street than when he was elected. He said in Portland, the city needs to figure out what’s wrong with its prosecution so that when people are arrested they go to jail.
7:37 Drazan is asked how she’ll address the challenges of wildfire and drought. She said this year, we had an opportunity to support drought-impacted communities and funds were withheld by Democrats for six months. She said Republicans need to continue to support ongoing thinning and mitigation in forests to address wildfire.
7:39 Pierce believes bringing back a natural resourced-based economy to parts of Oregon is the most overlooked issue in Oregon. He wants to see more timber products harvested in Oregon and more food grown in the state. He said we rely on overseas production too much. Bringing back a timber economy would help smaller communities, he said.
7:40 Tiernan said lack of leadership is the most overlooked problem in Oregon. He said problems keep getting talked about, but don’t get solved. He said his background as a president and chief operating officer for large companies has taught him how to create strategies, hold people accountable and solve problems. “Every problem we have in Oregon right now is solve-able,” he said.
7:41 Pulliam said the most overlooked problem is that “it’s all the extreme left Democrats’ fault.” He blames them for mass homelessness and crime and poor public education.
7:42 Drazan said she’s most concerned about the state of families and believes that’s the most overlooked issue. She said the “legalization of hard drugs” impacts families, along with struggling schools.
7:43 Tiernan said he would end Oregon sanctuary laws. He said as a governor, it doesn’t matter if someone is violating a small law or a big law and that sanctuary cities are sanctioning illegality. He said we need to remember that having police officers arrest, judges judge, and having people put away in jail is the foundation of our justice system.
7:44 Pulliam said we need to stand up and address the issue of criminality. On day one, he’ll start beefing up the Oregon State Police and would deputize part of the Oregon State Police as U.S. Marshals so when they arrest people, they face federal charges.
7:45 Drazan said she is a pro-life woman. If any legislation comes to her desk to expand access to abortion in Oregon, she won’t sign it.
7:46 Pierce would want to be known as the governor who ends the homeless crisis. He said it tears at his heart to see people living on the street.
7:46 Tiernan is asked how he would fund improvements to the I-5 bridge if the federal government says they won’t cover the full cost of it. He said he would only fund it if it served a greater capacity than it does now.
Candidates are asked what makes them think the federal government will pick up the cost of the I-5 bridge and other projects? And how they’ll pay for it if it isn’t fully funded?
7:47 Pulliam said the state needs to manage its budget better and that could create extra funds. He said Oregon needs to get creative and think outside the box instead of just resorting to taxing.
7:48 Drazan said she would simplify the bridge plan. It doesn’t need to include a MAX line or bike lanes.
7:49 Pierce said he’d like to find the money in the budget without increasing it. He’d consider a privatization component that would pick up some of the slack.
7:49 Tiernan said he thinks road capacity needs to be expanded, beyond the I-5 bridge.
Question: Rural Oregon feels forgotten. What would you do to include them more?
7:50 Pulliam said he’d let them know they’re not forgotten. He said a governor needs to get out of Salem. He said people want individual control and they’re tired of Portland politicians forcing their values on rural Oregon.
7:51 Drazan said she understands what they’re going through, since she grew up in Klamath Falls. She said they’re asking for people to give them they’re lives back.
7:51 Pierce said he’d bring back a natural resource-based economy. When he’s governor, he’d like to spend 2-3 months at a time in different parts of the state. He wants to live in different parts of Oregon when the legislature is not in session.
7:53 Tiernan said he’d treat every part of Oregon like it’s his own backyard. He said a problem in any small community is his problem.
7:53 Drazan said she’s a small-town girl, but has a big vision for the state. She said this is the opportunity to lead Oregon in a new direction. She said we have an opportunity right now to fix our streets and our schools. She said she’s the one person on the stage tonight with experience and leadership.
7:53 Tiernan said he’s the one with the experience and background to fix the problems talked about tonight. He said his experience leading multi-million-dollar companies and his time in the Navy qualifies him to fix Oregon’s problems. He said he looks forward to fixing the challenges talked about tonight.
7:55 Pierce said his life is about bringing people together to solve problems and Oregonians need to be brought together to solve their problems. He said it will take a unifying leader to bring people together and that’s what his life has been about. He reminds people that he’s a Marine and says what he means.
7:56 Pulliam said Drazan was right. He hasn’t been in the Capitol the last several years. He said he’s tired of losing under Kate Brown. He said he fought back against the lockdowns during the pandemic and he’s called out Portland for its “culture of criminality.” He believes Portland is looking for a fighter and he’s that guy.
The primary for both Republicans and Democrats in Oregon is May 17.