Tina Kotek (D), Christine Drazan (R), and Betsy Johnson (I) lead field in Oregon gubernatorial race

Tina Kotek (D), Christine Drazan (R), Betsy Johnson (I), and R. Leon Noble (L) are running in the Oregon gubernatorial election on November 8, 2022. Incumbent Governor Kate Brown (D) is term-limited and cannot run for re-election.

Kotek, Drazan, and Johnson have led the field in fundraising and media coverage. Kotek is the former speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, Drazan is the former Oregon House minority leader, and Johnson is a former Oregon state senator. Johnson served in the state senate as a Democrat.

Kyle Kondik of Sabato’s Crystal Ball wrote, “the state is hosting an unusual 3-way race among a trio of women who are all recent members of the state legislature. […] The race sets up an unusual situation where the winner may not need to crack even 40%.”

Writing about the July 29 gubernatorial debate, Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Dirk VanderHart said the candidates, “attempted to stake out the political lanes they hope to ride to victory in November: Kotek as the accomplished progressive, Johnson as the centrist unifier, and Drazan as the change agent for a state that has […] one-party control.”

In 2018, Brown won re-election against Knute Buehler (R) 50% to 44%. President Joe Biden (D) won the 2020 presidential vote in Oregon with 57% to Donald Trump’s (R) 40%. In 2020, Oregon held three statewide executive elections for secretary of state, treasurer, and attorney general. Democratic candidates won each of these races by at least percentage 7 points.

Oregon has had a Democratic governor since 1987. Oregon’s most recent Republican governor was Victor G. Atiyeh, who served from 1979 to 1987. Since Oregon became a state in 1859, only one third-party or independent candidate has been elected governor: Julius L. Meier (I), who served from 1931 to 1935.

This is one of 36 gubernatorial elections taking place in 2022. The governor serves as a state’s top executive official and is the only executive office that is elected in all 50 states. There are currently 28 Republican governors and 22 Democratic governors.

Oregon has a Democratic trifecta. A state government trifecta refers to a situation where one party controls a state’s governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

As of August 29, 2022, there are 23 Republican trifectas, 14 Democratic trifectas, and 13 divided governments where neither party holds trifecta control.