PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Former Oregon state House Speaker Tina Kotek has won the state’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, beating state Treasurer Tobias Read in a victory for the party’s progressive wing.
Current Gov. Kate Brown, a progressive Democrat, cannot run for the position again because of term limits.
The Portland-based Kotek has collected endorsements from a third of Oregon lawmakers, nationally elected leaders, unions and organizations.
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On the Republican side, Christine Drazan was leading Bob Tiernan in the crowded field, 24.01% – 19.29%, as of 9:10 p.m. Tuesday.
Kotek’s biggest challenger was Read, who was a state representative in Oregon for 10 years before being elected as treasurer. The Democrat hoped to capitalize on voter unrest in Oregon over the handling of the pandemic, the homeless crisis, a lack of affordable housing and increasing gun violence.
The state hasn’t had a GOP governor in 35 years. But political experts say Republicans have an opening in November amid widespread discontent in the state and a possible split in votes among the majority party as unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson makes a gubernatorial run in the fall.
Travis Pittman contributed to this report.