Christine Drazan has won the Republican nomination for governor in Oregon, edging out Bob Tiernan and Stan Pulliam in a crowded field in the famously blue state.
Decision Desk HQ made the call on the race one night after the polls closed, with Drazan being named the projected winner with around 23% support. Tiernan had just over 18% of the vote, with Pulliam around 10% and none of the other 16 candidates in double digits.
Former Oregon Republican Party Chair Tiernan won the coastal counties, while former state House Minority Leader Drazan carried the victory by winning most of the counties in the middle of the state.
Former President Donald Trump did not endorse a candidate in the race.
In the November general election, Drazan will face Democrat nominee Tina Kotek, who was declared the winner Tuesday night, and Betsy Johnson, a former longtime Democrat state senator who is running as an independent. As a nonaffiliated candidate, Johnson does not need to run a primary race to make the fall ballot.
Kotek, the former Oregon House speaker, beat state Treasurer Tobias Read in a victory for the party’s progressive wing. Current Gov. Kate Brown, a progressive Democrat, was term limited.
“I think it’s important to remember that all the Democrats in this race share a similar vision for what we want the state to be,” Kotek said in her victory speech, addressing a crowd of supporters in Portland on Tuesday night. “We’re all going to work together to make sure we win. That a Democrat — that I win in November, because frankly there is just too much at stake.”
The Portland-based Kotek, who led by a comfortable margin Tuesday, has collected endorsements from a third of Oregon lawmakers, nationally elected leaders, unions, and organizations. But as someone who held power during a tumultuous time in Oregon, Kotek must convince voters she can improve the state while avoiding blame for its problems.
Oregon has not seen a GOP governor in 35 years. But political experts say Republicans have an opening for victory amid widespread discontent in the state and a possible split in votes among the majority parties as the unaffiliated Johnson makes a gubernatorial run in the fall.
“This will be a three-way race for the highest office in our state, and this will be an election unlike any of us have ever seen,” Kotek said Tuesday night.
Christopher McKnight Nichols, an associate professor of history at Oregon State University, described the GOP’s chances of winning in the fall as “the best shot” the party has had in a long time.
Determining the results in close races could be delayed due to a new Oregon law, which allows mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day to count if county elections offices receive them within a week of the election.
The change was made during Oregon’s 2021 Legislative Session. Under previous law, ballots were only counted if they were received by 8 p.m. PT on Election Day.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.