Candidates participate in Oregon’s final governor’s debate where Republican could win


The Republican who was able to win Oregon’s governor’s race for the first time in 40 years called out her Democratic opponent Wednesday night for her “stunning” pullback from downgrading the police force and backing prolonged COVID lockdowns.

But Christine Drazan, who led the GOP in the Oregon State House, would not break free from election deniers and QAnon conspiracy theorists in her own party.

“It’s not about other races. It’s not about other candidates,” Drazan replied when pressed by moderators for her take on Oregon Republican Senate hopeful Jo Rae Perkins, who thanked “Q” and former President Donald Trump when she won the GOP primaries. .

In August, Drazan was quoted saying she “wishes all the other Republican candidates the best.”

Drazan took the podium alongside Democrat Tina Kotek and unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson, a former state senator who left the Democratic Party, for a final government debate with less than three weeks left before Election Day, and a small lead in the election. polls.

The top of the debate was dominated by the topics that tarnish the image of the state: homelessness, drug use and whether or not to support the police.

Oregon's governor race is now being watched closely as a Republican, Christine Drazan (pictured), could be the first Republican to win the governor's mansion in 40 years

Oregon’s governor race is now being watched closely as a Republican, Christine Drazan (pictured), could be the first Republican to win the governor’s mansion in 40 years

Tina Kotek

Tina Kotek

Betsy Johnson

Betsy Johnson

Drazan took part in the latest gubernatorial debate Wednesday night against Democrat Tina Kotek (left) and independent candidate Betsy Johnson (right), who left the Democratic Party over some of the progressive policies she said had “spoiled” the state.

Kotek, the former Oregon House speaker, said the homelessness problem was not solved because Drazan urged her Republican colleagues to resign.

“We lost momentum,” Kotek said.

The tactic of preventing the House from reaching the quorum was used to delay legislation in a legislature dominated by Democrats.

Drazan found Kotek’s complaint laughable.

“The claim that the Speaker of the House, who has been responsible for this challenge for over a decade, would hand over responsibility to the Republican leader of the House — you know, it’s a little flattering, but it’s really, really, really off-base,” Drazan said.

Drazan claimed that Kotek prioritized “almost everything” before tackling homelessness.

“She has not given guidance on this matter. And you can’t pass it on to Kate Brown,” she said, referring to the outgoing Democratic governor, who had the nation’s lowest approval rating in the spring, according to Morning Consult. “You certainly can’t pass it on to the Republicans.”

“This is the biggest indictment against Tina Kotek’s leadership for not acting in this matter,” Drazan said.

All three candidates said they tentatively approved Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s homelessness plan — which would place people on three major homeless campuses and ban camping in downtown Portland.

Kotek expressed his support for holding voting initiative 110 – a 2020 initiative that decriminalized possession of heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, oxycodone and other hard drugs.

“Starting over, I think, would only lead to more people dying,” the Democrat said.

Johnson said she would ask the state legislature to “refer” the ballot initiative to voters.

“I don’t think there has been an adequate conversation about the downstream effects of mood measure 110, which has functionally legalized hard drugs,” Johnson said.

For those found with drugs, the voting initiative allowed them to be fined $100 or go to an addiction recovery center. However, the latter option is rarely chosen.

“People don’t go looking for those services and why should our streets be flooded with cheap powerful drugs? Why, why would this work?’ asked Johnson. “I would start over,” added the independent candidate.

Drazan talked about talking to drug users who were not interested in getting help.

“We have to solve this crisis and for that we have to withdraw voting measure 110,” the Republican said.

Candidates were then asked if they supported more street law enforcement — something Kotek said she did.

“You know, Tina Kotek is the original ‘defund the police’ candidate,” Drazan said when it was her turn. “She didn’t support the police, even when rioters attacked a police station. I think it’s amazing that she would talk now that she’s supporting law enforcement.”

Johnson also seized the opportunity to attack her former Democratic colleague.

“I agree with Ms. Drazan saying that I’m surprised by Tina’s answer, because we have to start with respect for our police. That doesn’t mean you’re running with the rioters or berating the police when the riots happened,” Johnson said.

“We have created a culture of lawlessness under Tina Kotek and Kate Brown,” Johnson added.

Johnson accused Kotek of writing a letter to Mayor Wheeler “siding with the rioters,” a characterization Kotek objected to, explaining that she wrote the letter to the mayor of Portland to complain about its improper use. of tear gas in a residential area.

“I think it’s important when you become governor that you don’t lie to voters. They both misrepresent my record,” Kotek accused.

On the subject of COVID protocols, Drazan and Johnson both hammered the Democrats for lengthy lockdowns — as Oregon had some of the longest school closures in the nation.

“You know Kate Brown and Tina Kotek threw our kids under the bus,” Drazan said. “Tina Kotek just lectured us all about being fair to voters. She couldn’t be more dishonest to voters on this point. We got the chance to reopen the schools. She voted no.’

Johnson said “the worst thing we did during COVID was to keep kids out of classrooms,” criticizing Kotek for being too cozy with teachers’ unions.

Kotek said she agreed ‘we kept the students out of the classroom for too long.’

The candidates also dealt with issues plaguing their respective political parties.

Drazan was told by moderators that a pickup truck turned up at a political event in Oregon with sporting signage in support of her and Trump and was adorned with the Confederate flag — considered a racist symbol by many Americans.

“I was not aware of that and I will absolutely – be against racism in all its forms,” ​​the Republican said. “And the Confederate flag certainly wouldn’t be welcome at any of my campaign events.”

Drazan was also questioned about her stance on abortion, with Kotek pointing out, “The national Republican agenda is to outlaw abortion.”

“Abortion is legal in Oregon and as governor it will continue to be,” Drazan said.

However, she added that she would not support Oregon taxpayer dollars go toward helping out-of-state women get abortions, something Johnson agreed.

Kotek said that with the legalization of abortion in the US dwindling, “that could mean that Oregon taxpayers’ money is being used to give those individuals the care they need.”

Johnson, as a former Democrat, had to answer whether she would be a ‘spoiler’ in the race as she polls about 16 percent.

She used the question to taunt the party’s vigilant, progressive wing.

“Well, let me start by disproving that premise. I entered this race because I believed I was the best candidate – the ability, the courage, the institutional history – to provide real leadership to a state under the leadership of Kate Brown – and during the time that Tina Kotek was a speaker.’

Johnson also called Kotek the “spoiler” in the race.

“Tina has ruined the state I love, she has ruined the party I used to be a member of, with these insanely progressive policies that I spoke out against during my term in the legislature,” Johnson continued. “I kept saying to my colleagues, you keep going on this progressive route that is ostensibly at war against the rest of Oregon and there will be a price to be paid.”

Johnson said the policy resulted in a “spiral of urban decay in our urban areas and a lack of opportunity in our rural areas.”

With Kotek and Johnson splitting the traditional Democratic vote, that leaves room for Drazan to win.

“We don’t have to take a sharp right turn to get our state back on track,” Kotek argued.

“It’s not a hard right, it’s called balance,” Drazan said.