Second-term state representative and former House Minority Leader Christine Drazan, of Canby, on Tuesday formally announced her bid to become the first-ever Republican woman governor of Oregon — and the first GOP candidate to win the state’s highest office in nearly 40 years.
Drazan had previously confirmed to various media outlets, including the Current, that she planned to become the highest-profile Republican yet to enter the increasingly crowded race, then announced last month she was stepping down from House GOP leadership after two years to focus on the campaign.
The official announcement came Tuesday afternoon at Langdon Farms Golf Club in Aurora, with about 150 supporters, community members, staffers and media in attendance.
She was introduced by Representative Shelly Boshart Davis, R-Albany, who was first elected to the Legislature with Drazan in November 2018.
“Christine is tough as nails,” Boshart Davis said. “She understands how to tackle the difficult problems that we’re facing, and she never backs down from a fight. This girl has chops. She is exactly the kind of leader our state needs at such a time as this.”
Drazan spoke for slightly less than 20 minutes, promising she does indeed possess the experience and demeanor needed for the challenges facing the state as a whole and millions of Oregonians.
“I have been in the trenches,” she said. “I have stood up to the special interests. My experience makes me uniquely qualified to stand up for you and to bring change to our state.”
In some ways, she offered a message of moderation and balance that was refreshing amid the highly polarized, ultrapartisan rhetoric that has come to characterize state and national politics.
“I worked in the Capitol the last time we had balance in the state of Oregon,” said Drazan, who served as chief of staff for Republican House Speaker Mark Simmons in the late ’90s and early 2000s.
“We passed tax reform, we stood by law enforcement, we held criminals accountable for their conduct and we stood for the jobs and industries that, for decades, provided hard-working Oregonians the support they needed to support their own families. Don’t you think Oregon needs a little bit of balance today?”
Yet, she was not hesitant to criticize the state’s Democratic leaders, particularly current Governor Kate Brown, and what Drazan called her “extreme policies” and the impact they have had on schools, businesses and crime — especially since the onset of Covid-19.
“From the start of the pandemic, Governor Brown has repeatedly gotten it wrong,” she said. “Her top-down mandates too often contradicted the latest science, left our small businesses reeling, set our kids’ education back and left thousands of Oregonians feeling isolated and wondering what the metrics might be for all of this to end.
“And while the governor was pushing the nation’s first permanent mask mandate, she was attending cocktail parties in Washington, D.C., without one.”
Drazan joins an already crowded GOP field that includes former gubernatorial nominee Bud Pierce, current Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam and Marc Thielman, superintendent of the Alsea School District, along with at least a dozen Democrats and three independents — all vying to succeed the term-limited Kate Brown.
Drazan said she decided to jump into the fray after looking at the existing candidates and considering whether she could work with them as House Republican leader.
“I looked at the Democrats: the ultra-liberal, the so-called moderate and the carpet bagger from New York,” she said, presumably referring to Democratic frontrunners Tina Kotek, Tobias Reed and Nicholas Kristof. “And I knew, like all of you know, that Oregon cannot survive another four years of this.”
Oregonians deserve better and are “desperate for change,” Drazan said.
“The last thing we need is more of the same,” she added. “We need leaders who will challenge the status quo. We need leaders who will reverse our decade of decline and finally put our state back on the right track. I am ready to be that leader.”
Drazan vowed to fight inflation, as well as rising taxes and costs of living, rebuild schools, support law enforcement and fix the homelessness problem in Portland across the state.
At the end, Drazan sought to frame her candidacy around hope for a better future for all.
“This campaign is about you. This campaign is about us,” she said. “This is about the future of our state and what is best for the people of Oregon. We are going to win this election, and we are going to fix Oregon together.”
See Drazan’s full remarks in the video below:
Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!