Canby state representative and House Minority Leader Christine Drazan announced plans to run for governor in 2022, becoming the highest-profile Republican official to enter an increasingly crowded race.
Drazan, a two-term state representative from Canby, plans to officially launch her campaign before the end of the year. In a statement shared with The Canby Current, she said friends and supporters have encouraged her to run for governor over the past few months.
“Through these conversations, it has become clear that Oregonians are ready for change,” Drazan said. “They are tired of the backroom deals, the broken promises and the failed leadership. They are tired of our state consistently being in the national headlines for all the wrong reasons. Frankly, I am too.
“When it comes to standing up for Oregonians, against powerful special interests and entrenched politicians in Salem, I’ve never backed down from a fight — and now I am ready to fight for the future of Oregon.”
Drazan will join a GOP primary field that thus far lacks a clear front-runner and any candidates with elected experience beyond the city level.
The most visible hopeful, Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam, held a listening tour in communities across Oregon this summer — including Canby and Molalla — before formally announcing his candidacy in September.
He leads the GOP field in fundraising, with about $527,000 raised this year. Bridget Barton, a political consultant from Lake Oswego, has raised $378,000. Salem oncologist Bud Pierce, who was the party’s nominee in the 2016 special election, reported raising $750,000 for his campaign, but nearly half that came from his own bank account.
Drazan has about $150,000 left in a campaign finance committee from her 2020 campaign for the House.
She quickly rose to prominence in her caucus and was elected minority leader in the fall of 2019, after just nine months in office. Drazan’s political work stretches back to the ’90s, when she worked as chief of staff for Republican House Speaker Mark Simmons.
She also worked as executive director of the Cultural Advocacy Coalition and political coordinator for the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association before running for office. She previously served on the Canby School District Budget Committee and the Clackamas County Planning Commission.
In 2020, Drazan led her caucus on a trip out of state to deny House Democrats the quorum they needed to pass legislation aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
This year, she struck a deal with Democratic House Speaker Tina Kotek, who is also running for governor, to avoid Republican walkouts in exchange for an equal voice in drawing new legislative and congressional districts.
That deal fell apart days before the deadline to approve new districts, and Drazan sought to have Kotek formally censured by the House for breaking her word.
A Republican hasn’t won a gubernatorial race since 1982, when Vic Atiyeh captured 61.4% of the vote to claim a second term.
The closest the GOP has come to reclaiming the governor’s seat since then was probably 11 years ago, when former Trail Blazer Chris Dudley narrowly failed to defeat John Kitzhaber’s bid for a record third term that would later be derailed by scandal.
But Republicans have more reason to hope in 2022 than they’ve had in years, thanks to GOP victory in the Virginia governor’s race, a closer-than-expected governor’s race in New Jersey and a historic trend of the sitting president’s party performing worse in midterm elections.
Drazan, like Virginia governor-elect Glenn Youngkin, has largely avoided getting involved in some of the Trumpian politics that still grip the national Republican Party.
After the Oregon Republican Party referred to the attempted insurrection on Jan. 6 as a “false flag” operation, Drazan got her caucus to release a unanimous statement condemning the state party.
She also called on then-Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence, to resign after seeing video of him coaching right-wing demonstrators on how to enter the locked Capitol during a special session on Covid policy.
Kotek, state Treasurer Tobias Read and former New York Times columnist Nick Kristof lead the Democratic primary, while a pack of lesser-known candidates led by Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla have spent months focused on building support from grassroots candidates.
Sen. Betsy Johnson, a longtime moderate Democrat from Scappoose, announced she will relinquish her party affiliation to run for governor as an independent. Johnson raised more than $2 million during the first month of her campaign and could draw support from both sides of the aisle.
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