Oregon could have its first Republican governor since 1982, according to a new poll, as residents of the deep blue state grapple with crime, drugs and quality of life issues, particularly in cities.
Republican gubernatorial candidate and former member of the state House of Representatives Christine Drazan led her opponent, former Democratic Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives Tina Kotek, by two points in a recent Emerson College poll. Democrats currently dominate the Oregon legislature and President Joe Biden won the state by a 16 point margin in 2020, with the state’s most populous city, Portland, widely viewed as one of the most left-wing places in the country.
Drazan polled at 36% compared to Kotek’s 34%, while independent candidate Betsy Johnson pulled in 19% of the vote in the new poll. Johnson, a former Democrat, may be pulling voters away from Kotek.
The poll comes after Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia reclassified the race from “leans Democratic” to “toss up” in August.
Drazan’s campaign has focused heavily on public safety, drawing attention to the surge in violent crime in Oregon cities in recent years. She has characterized the political response to widespread homelessness in cities like Portland as policy failures.
“An emergency declaration is a powerful tool we need to help homeless Oregonians,” she wrote. “We should’ve done this a long time ago, but my Democrat opponents have failed to come through for Oregon families. It’s time for a new direction.”
Her campaign has emphasized moving away from policies associated with rampant public drugs use, homelessness and crime; Kotek took the positions Drazan now criticizes on several key issues while serving in the state Senate. Kotek recently defended a 2020 ballot measure that decriminalized all drugs in small quantities, and in the summer of 2020 she urged police to take a more lax approach to protesters during violent clashes.
Portland has struggled with surging violent crime, including homicides, in recent years. Polls have found widespread concerns about public safety, with a majority of voters considering the city “very unsafe” after dark.
Drazan and Kotek did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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