Although Oregon has long been a blue stronghold, political analysts say the state’s gubernatorial race is no sure thing, the Baker City Herald reported Tuesday.
Most recently, the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics changed the race from “Leans Democratic” to “Toss-up,” pointing to the volatile nature of potentially splitting a governor’s race between three candidates.
“This is despite the state’s blue lean and the fact that Republicans have not won a gubernatorial race there since 1982,” wrote Kyle Kondik for the Center for Politics.
Former state House Speaker Tina Kotek (D), former state House Minority Leader Christine Drazan (R), and former state Sen. Betsy Johnson, an unaffiliated former Democrat, are all vying for the governorship. As Kondik notes, the race sets up a situation where the winner “may not need to crack even 40 percent,” and all three served concurrently in the state legislature, giving “campaigns ample opportunities to draw contrasts among the candidates.”
Outgoing Democrat Gov. Kate Brown has also been labeled the United States’ “least popular” governor on several occasions, which could create some strain for Democrats looking to hold onto the governorship.
The Baker City Herald reported that the Center for Politics’ change to “toss-up” came just has Johnson turned in twice the number of signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot. The secretary of state has until August 30 to verify a sample of the signatures in order to place her on the ballot with Kotek and Drazan.
“Johnson, the independent, would still be the most surprising winner, and Kotek and Drazan both will be working to try to prevent their voters from flocking to her banner. There’s just enough uncertainty here that we’re looking at the race as a Toss-up now,” Kondik wrote.