Tina Kotek won a hard-fought campaign for Oregon Governor, promising to unite a state ravaged by homelessness and crime.
“I am honored and humbled to serve Oregon,” Kotek said in her victory speech on Thursday in Portland. “I promise to be a governor for all of Oregon and I’m ready to get to work and move Oregon forward.”
Kotek, 56, joins Massachusetts governor-elect Maura Healey as the first lesbians elected governors in the United States. She won a three-way contest in the Beaver State, taking 47% of the vote to 43% for Republican Christine Drazen. Unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson, a former Democratic state senator, got 9%.
The campaign largely centered on the state’s response to homelessness and crime. During a televised debate, Kotek admitted Portland’s reputation had been tarnished and promised to declare a homelessness state of emergency on her first day in office. Her opponents tried to saddle Kotek, the former Speaker of the House, with much of the blame, labeling her “Tent City Tina.”
“We don’t need a red state takeover to take out the damn trash,” Kotek said in her final campaign ads, while warning Oregonians that abortion rights and LGBT rights would be threatened under a Republican administration.
Drazen conceded on Friday. She won 29 of Oregon’s 36 counties, but was overwhelmed in the large population centers of Portland and Eugene. Both Drazen and Johnson benefited from millions in campaign donations by Nike co-founder Phil Knight, while President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders made trips to Oregon to campaign with Kotek.