Image for Oregonian Runs Guest Columns by Gubernatorial Candidates
After Betsy Johnson (center) qualified for the November ballot as a non-affiliated candidate, The Oregonian published guest columns over the weekend by all three leading gubernatorial candidates. Republican Christine Drazan (left) portrayed herself as the change agent, Johnson said she was the alternative to political extremes and Tina Kotek (right) cited her legislative achievements as Oregon House Speaker.

Columns Reflect Candidate Positioning, Issues and Tone

Betsy Johnson pledges to save the state, Christine Drazan promises a new direction and Tina Kotek points to her legislative track record in parallel guest opinion pieces by the three leading gubernatorial candidates published over the weekend by The Oregonian.

The opinion pieces make essentially the same arguments as the current round of candidate television ads. Johnson portrays herself as the alternative to partisan extremes, Drazan positions herself as a family-centered change from Governor Brown’s policies and Kotek touts her list of high-profile legislative achievements.

Johnson and Drazan agree the state is going in the wrong direction. Johnson blames ideological extremes. Drazan blames Johnson and Kotek. Kotek admits the state has major problems and asserts she is the proven problem-solver.

The guest opinion pieces reflect the language each candidate uses. Johnson quips – “It doesn’t matter how beautiful Oregon is if you can’t afford to live here.” Drazan points to her ‘roadmap’ for change – “It’s my plan to lead Oregon in a new direction by tackling homelessness, public safety, affordability, education and more.” Kotek cites her experience – “As governor, I will bring the vision, values and track record that’s needed to turn things around.”

The columns represent a brief way to learn the main arguments made by each candidate on their own behalf before campaigns heat up after Labor Day with attack advertising paid for by third parties.

Each guest opinion piece contains a snip or two at opponents.

Johnson: “The two parties, dominated by their ideological extremes, would rather fight than find solutions. Every election we’re asked to pick between them. Right now, for instance, Oregonians are being asked whether we want to protect a woman’s right to choose or improve public safety, end tent cities and adequately fund the police. I’m the only one running for governor who wants to do both. We need to come together to fix the problems that can unite us: protecting our kids and their future, finding affordable places to live in Oregon, solving the homeless crisis.”

Drazan: “Oregon is not in this mess by accident. We are here because of the failed policies of Kate Brown and those in power who lowered education standards, made neighborhoods less safe and raised prices. We can’t afford more of the same failed ideas that have harmed Oregon and left too many Oregonians behind. I hope you will join me in working to lead our state in a new direction.”

Kotek: “The three major candidates for governor have all been legislative leaders. We’ve all had the opportunity to take on big problems. But too many times, when things got tough in the Capitol, neither of my opponents brought forward solutions. Instead, they distinguished themselves by voting ‘no’ or walking off the job.”

The guest opinion pieces variously touch on issues including homelessness, public safety, jobs, education, drug addiction, abortion, climate change, guns and affordability, though there weren’t any new policy promises. All three offer differing solutions for homelessness, public safety, affordability and jobs. Drazan talks about drug addiction, Johnson about education and Kotek about reproductive health care.

The columns represent a brief way to learn the main arguments made by each candidate on their own behalf before campaigns heat up after Labor Day with attack advertising paid for by third parties.

The columns appeared after Oregon’s Secretary of State determined Johnson turned in more than enough valid signatures to qualify the former state senator for a place on the general election ballot as an unaffiliated candidate for governor. If elected, Johnson would be only the second Oregon governor that didn’t run as a Republican or Democrat.