Betsy Johnson casts herself as the candidate for Oregon governor who will speak for voters who are “fed up” with homeless encampments and trash-strewn streets and tired of watching Republicans and Democrats “fight like two cats in a sack.”
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The former Democratic state senator, now running as an independent, likes to boast that she is not campaigning as “Miss Congeniality” and promises to govern from the center. Johnson argues that the policies of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tina Kotek – the former state House speaker who appeared at a private fundraising reception with President Joe Biden on Saturday – would leave the state “woke and broke,” while stating that her Republican opponent, Christine Drazan, a former state House minority leader, would endanger women’s reproductive rights.
“I am the champion and the voice right now of people who feel disrespected, disenfranchised, looked down on, and they’re sick of it,” the bespectacled former helicopter pilot said in a telephone interview earlier this week, before Biden’s arrival in the state. “I have always been pro-choice, pro-cop, pro-change, pro-accountability and pro-alternative to the status quo. The status quo was getting us no place, and the only people that were suffering were Oregonians.”
The resonance of that message from a moderate former Democrat with deep financial support in Oregon’s business community has upended the state’s race for governor this year – unnerving Democrats by creating a scenario under which Republicans could capture the office for the first time in 40 years.