Governor: Kotek, Drazan jump to early leads
Tina Kotek dominated the 15-candidate field for the Democratic nomination for governor, but Christine Drazan and Bob Tiernan were neck-and-neck among the 19 candidates seeking the Republican nomination in Tuesday's primary.
Kotek, a former Oregon House speaker from Portland, was winning handily over state Treasurer Tobias Read of Beaverton for the office being vacated by Democrat Kate Brown, who cannot run again because of term limits. Kotek was leading with 55%, Read 33%, Patrick Starnes, the 2018 Independent Party nominee who ran as a Democrat this time, 2%, others trailing, as of 10 p.m.
North Caroline Gov. Roy Cooper, who leads the Democratic Governors Association, congratulated Kotek on her victory. Kotek led the House for a record nine years, shaping nearly every major bill through her tenure.
"As governor, she'll not only make history as the first lesbian governor in the country, but will also make life better, safer and more affordable for Oregon families," Cooper said in a statement. "The DGA looks forward to supporting her."
The Republican contest was more complicated and could take awhile to conclude.
Drazan, the former House Republican leader from Canby, was leading with 24%. But Tiernan, who served two terms in the House from Lake Oswego in the mid-1990s, was close behind with 19%. Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam was third with just under 10% at 10 p.m.. Political strategist Bridget Barton of West Linn, Baker City Mayor Kerry McQuisten and Salem physician Bud Pierce, the party's 2016 nominee for governor, were bunched together, garnering between 8 percent and 9 percent of the vote.
The lowest share by a winning GOP nominee for governor in Oregon's history was Kevin Mannix, who got 35% in 2002; two relative moderates split most of the rest.
Waiting in the wings was Betsy Johnson of Scappoose, a former Democratic state senator who plans to qualify as an independent candidate for governor by petition.
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