Democrat Tina Kotek will be the next governor of Oregon, defeating Republican Christine Drazan and Independent candidate Betsy Johnson.
The winner was projected by Decision Desk, with Kotek holding 47.14% of the vote, Drazan holding 43.47% of the vote, and Johnson holding 8.65% of the vote.
The trio was vying to replace Democratic Governor Kate Brown, a heavily unpopular governor who could not run again due to term limits. Drazan previously served as the minority leader for the Oregon House of Representatives and Johnson was a longtime Democratic legislator with a distaste for the state’s party establishment.
Drazan campaigned on homelessness, crime, and low performance in schools after the COVID pandemic lockdowns. Notably, Kotek embraced the need for more police officers, prompting criticism from Drazan, who noted that she did not support law enforcement during the Portland riots in the summer of 2020.
In an interview in September, Drazan told The Daily Wire that she planned to declare a state of emergency on homelessness, putting her office in the “driver’s seat.” She also promised to not mandate COVID lockdowns, citing the impact they had on children.
“As a mom of three, I saw firsthand the impacts of the shutdowns on my kids and their friends and our neighbors. It was unacceptable to put our kids last for the impacts of COVID,” she said. “Those shutdowns hurt their academic progress and it certainly impacted their social and emotional wellbeing.”
The race was largely expected to go to the Democrat initially, but Drazan started making headlines in recent months after leading in several polls.
In August, The Center for Politics at the University of Virginia moved its Crystal Ball rating for the Oregon gubernatorial race from “Leans Democratic” to “Toss-Up” in a significant adjustment. In September, a DHM Research poll discovered that around 32% of likely voters in the state would vote for Drazan if deciding that day. Only 31% said they would support Kotek, while 18% said they would support Johnson.
The three-candidate race, combined with voter dissatisfaction with current policies, crime, and homelessness in the state created what some viewed as an opportunity to elect the first Republican governor since the 1970s — though it didn’t come to fruition.
The race also drew parallels to the Virginia 2021 gubernatorial election, which saw Republican Glenn Youngkin win a governor’s seat that Republicans last won in the red wave of 2010. Youngkin campaigned for Drazan; President Joe Biden for Kotek.