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2022 Oregon governor's race: Tina Kotek projected winner over Christine Drazan

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Breaking down the 2022 midterm results 02:37

Democrat Tina Kotek has won the Oregon governor's race, CBS News projects, fending off a challenge from Republican Christine Drazan and unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson, who siphoned some left-leaning voters away from Kotek and kept the race a close one.

Drazan conceded on Friday, saying in a statement, "The math for a comeback simply does not add up," and that the campaign "has come to an end." Drazan said she spoke with Kotek and hopes for the best for the state "as she steps into this role."

Johnson conceded on election night, according to The Associated Press.

The projected win from Kotek is historic, as she, along with Maura Healey in Massachusetts, are expected to become the country's first openly lesbian governors. In 2013, Kotek became the first openly lesbian speaker of a state House of Representatives.

Drazan, 50, threatened to upset Democrats' nearly four decades of gubernatorial control in Oregon, if Johnson drew enough votes away from Kotek. Democrats have occupied the governor's mansion in Oregon since 1987, and President Biden won the state by 16 percentage points in 2020.

Alex Sundby contributed reporting.


The race

Kotek served as speaker of the Oregon House, while Drazan was the former minority leader. Johnson, meanwhile, was a member of the Democratic Party while she was in the state legislature, but is running unaffiliated.

President Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, have campaigned for Kotek in recent weeks, while Drazan has been joined by Republican Govs. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Glenn Youngkin of Virginia on the campaign trail. Drazan has also drawn monetary support from Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who donated $1 million to her campaign. Knight also sent $3.75 million to boost Johnson's candidacy, helping to make the race more competitive.

What may help blaze a path to victory for Drazan is the backlash against Gov. Kate Brown and the homelessness crisis in Portland, as well as concerns about safety in the city. The election is also taking place in the wake of a 2020 referendum approved by voters that decriminalized small amounts of drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin, which Drazan and Johnson want repealed.

By Melissa Quinn
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