Democrat Tina Kotek held a razor thin lead over Republican Christine Drazan in the Oregon governor’s race all night Tuesday, but the race remained too close to call.
In a short speech at 11 p.m. Kotek thanked her supporters. Drazan was expected to speak later Tuesday night.
Betsy Johnson, who ran as an independent, conceded early in the evening.
“…while the election outcome fell short of what we all wanted, I believe this campaign was a success,” Johnson wrote.
The race is one of the most-watched in the country.
For the first time in 40 years, Republicans had a real shot at claiming the state’s top elected office. Kotek and Drazan were polling neck and neck going into election day. Johnson, who ran as an independent, trailed far behind, but could pull enough votes away from Kotek to elect the Republican.
All three candidates have been leaders in the Oregon Legislature.
Kotek was elected to the Oregon House in 2006, and served as speaker for a record nine years before entering the governor’s race. She is running on her record as a progressive. As speaker of the House, Kotek helped pass laws raising the minimum wage, establishing paid family leave and transitioning the state to 100% clean electricity.
Drazan was elected to the House in 2018 and was the Republican leader from 2019-21. She has a long history in the building, working as a legislative staffer from 1995 to 2003, then moving into lobbying. As a relatively new lawmaker, Drazan led a Republican walkout in 2020 to block passage of a bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Johnson served in the Oregon House from 2001-2005, and in the state Senate from 2005-2021. She has emphasized her record of independence. Johnson bucked the Democrats to oppose a number of major climate and gun control bills.
The race is the most expensive in state history, and included large contributions from Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Early in the campaign, Knight gave $3.75 to Johnson. More recently, he contributed $1 million to Drazan’s campaign.
As of Nov. 3, Kotek had raised about $27.1 million and spent about $26.3 million, according to campaign finance records from the Oregon Secretary of State.
Drazan had raised about $22.2 million and spent about $21.5 million.
Johnson had raised about $17.5 million and spent about $17.3 million.
Tracy Loew covers the environment at the Statesman Journal. Send comments, questions and tips firstname.lastname@example.org, 503-399-6779. Follow her on Twitter at@Tracy_Loew