Tina Kotek won the Oregon Democratic gubernatorial primary on May 18.
With 84 percent of the precincts reporting at 3:59 a.m. ET, Kotek received 57 percent of the vote, defeating Tobias Reed by 14 percentage points, according to Decision Desk HQ.
After two terms in office, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, a progressive Democrat, could seek reelection because of term limits. That made 2022 the first election in Oregon in more than 20 years with no former or current governor on the ballot.
Republicans see what could be their best opportunity to win the office since Vic Atiyeh was elected in 1982. The heated GOP primary race, which featured more than a dozen candidates, was too close to call with 67 percent of the votes counted at 4:02 a.m. ET on May 18.
The candidates vying to face Kotek, include a former candidate for governor, an Oregon lawmaker who has been out of office for 20 years, a powerful mayor who said “no” to COVID-19 mandates, a school district superintendent who faced down the Oregon Department of Education over masking students, a former House leader who stood up against cap and trade, and a handful of tech sector executives who bring youth to the party.
Former Oregon state House Minority Leader Christine Drazan led the pack with 24 percent of the vote early on Wednesday moring.
Bob Tiernan, a successful businessman and former Oregon Republican Party chair, came in second with 19 percent of the vote.
Democrats look forward to continuing the progressive policies they have advanced in the state for more than 40 years. The party has fielded nine candidates in the primary. Kotek and Read ran two of the most prominent campaigns.
Kotek, 55, was the longest-serving speaker in Oregon history. She has gained a reputation for using the power of her office to push through progressive policies and would likely lead in the mold of Kate Brown. She has support from the state’s public employee unions.
Tobias Read had the endorsement of former Democrat governor John Kitzhaber. He vowed to address Oregon’s homeless crisis, reduce violence, and keep schools open while investing in green energy to battle climate change.
In November, Kotek and the eventual Republican nominee will likely face a three-way race. State Senator Betsy Johnson resigned her seat last October and launched an independent bid for Governor.
The decision gave Johnson a path around the primary and allowed her to save her sizeable warchest for November. As a non-affiliated candidate, though, Johnson must gather about 24,000 signatures from Oregon voters by Aug. 30 to qualify for the ballot.
Republicans are betting that Johnson’s third-party bid will siphon more votes from Democrats and help them take the Governor’s seat this November.