Big spending, national influence defines Oregon governor race

Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 7:44 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - The race for Oregon’s next governor is gaining national attention, and bringing in big money for campaigns as well as support from national political figures.

On Thursday, Democratic candidate Tina Kotek held a campaign event in Portland with progressive Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Kotek’s campaign also hosted events with President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Last week, Christine Drazan welcomed Virginia Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin to a campaign event in Aurora.

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Portland State political science professor Jack Miller said that when a race is statistically tied in the polls, whoever wins will be seen as a national victory for their party.

“Since the ‘90s, American elections have become increasingly nationalized,” Miller said. “If a dark blue state like Oregon goes to a Republican governor, that’s not going to contribute to a positive narrative for progressive Democrats.”

Another factor is the large amount of money raised by the candidates. According to the Oregon Secretary of State website, Christine Drazan has raised about $19.2 million dollars throughout her campaign. Tina Kotek has raised just under $25 million.

But money from wealthy donors may not have a significant effect, Miller said. Especially as candidates invest heavily in attack ads.

A lot of the ads that we’re seeing that are sponsored by super pacs and by wealthy people are very negative, very dark, and they portray the opposition as extremists,” Miller said. “And that tends to actually turn people off from politics.”

Miller said typically the most effective way for campaigns to win their races is to increase voter turnout by recruiting volunteers to canvas in their neighborhoods and communities.

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The Secretary of State website also breaks down large donations from wealthy donors for each candidate. Recently, Nike founder Phil Knight donated an additional $500,000 to Christine Drazan, and ex-wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, recently donated $10,000 to Tina Kotek.