September 22, 2022 04:06 PM
Last week’s donation ups the amount the organization has given in support of former state Rep. Tina Kotek to $3.1 million. Shortly after the contribution, the Cook Political Report reclassified the race from “lean Democrat” to “toss-up” as an independent candidate’s popularity threatens to split the vote.
Republicans have spent millions on the race. GOP candidate Christine Drazan said her campaign received $1 million from the Republican Governors Association earlier this month, amounting to $2.6 million over the course of the campaign.
Independent candidate Betsy Johnson has emerged as a serious contender, pulling nearly a quarter of the potential vote, according to polling data from last month. Her latest fundraising figures are unclear, but the available numbers put her on par with Kotek and Drazan for money raised since January 2021.
Third-party or independent candidates typically only take a negligible share of the vote, but Johnson made a name for herself with voters during her long career as a centrist Democrat in the statehouse. Outgoing Democratic Gov. Kate Brown is one of the most unpopular governors in the country, which could push voters into the arms of independents or Republicans.
“I think it’s combined with the fact Republicans do have a strong candidate in Christine Drazan, who is raising money,” Jessica Taylor of the Cook Political Report told KGW8. “And then you have the three-way race. There’s a frustration among Democrats about Betsy Johnson’s presence in there because they feel like she takes votes away from both of them but could potentially take more votes away from Tina Kotek.”
Drazan is a centrist Republican who was formerly minority leader of the Oregon House Republicans opposite Kotek, who was House speaker at the time. A Republican hasn’t served as Oregon governor since 1987.