Central Oregon Daily▶️ Extremely close Oregon governor race may not be decided for days

▶️ Extremely close Oregon governor race may not be decided for days

▶️ Extremely close Oregon governor race may not be decided for days

Oregon Governor Candidates Kotek Johnson Drazan

12:00 a.m Wednesday:

Democrat Tina Kotek was leading the race for Oregon governor as the calendar turned to Wednesday morning, but it could take several days before we find out who wins this one.

Kotek had 45.7% of the vote followed by Republican Christine Drazan at 44.65% and unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson at 8.82%. That’s based on 1,364,966 votes counted out of an unofficial tally of 1.7 million ballots returned. But more ballots that were mailed in are likely to still arrive.

Because of recent changes that allow for ballots to be counted if they are postmarked by election day, it could be a few days before a winner is determined.

All three candidates have experience in the state legislature. Drazan, Kotek and Johnson — who all served in the Oregon Legislature — each said curtailing the crisis of homelessness in Oregon would be their priority if elected governor.

Oregon has not elected a Republican governor in 35 years.

Johnson was hoping to woo centrist Republican and Democratic voters and the biggest slice of Oregon’s electorate: the 1 million unaffiliated voters whose numbers slightly edge registered Democrats and are 40% greater than the number of registered Republicans.

RELATED: Oregon governor no longer a ‘toss-up?’ National forecaster moves to ‘Lean’

The Democratic Party has repeatedly warned during the campaign that Johnson represented a “spoiler” that could cost Kotek votes. Johnson, who was in the statehouse for 20 years, quit the Democratic Party in 2021 to run as an unaffiliated candidate.

Johnson has dismissed the “spoiler” talk.

Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball, two national, non-partisan elections forecasters, both had this race as a toss-up for weeks. But Sabato’s moved it to “Lean Democratic” in the final days.

Cook’s Governor and Senate Editor Jessica Taylor told Central Oregon Daily News in late September that Drazan would not have a path to victory without Johnson in the race.

But Republicans, seeing an opportunity to flip a governor’s seat long held by Democrats, have poured millions of dollars into the race. Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who previously gave millions to Johnson’s campaign, donated $1 million to Drazan in October.

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