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LIVE RESULTS: Oregon holds primaries for an open governor's seat

Business Insider logo Business Insider 5/18/2022 gpanetta@businessinsider.com (Grace Panetta,Kimberly Leonard)
- Former Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, who is running for governor, poses for photos in Columbia Park in Portland, Ore., on Feb. 18, 2022. Oregon's primary elections are Tuesday, May 17, 2022. AP Photo/Sara Cline, file © AP Photo/Sara Cline, file - Former Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, who is running for governor, poses for photos in Columbia Park in Portland, Ore., on Feb. 18, 2022. Oregon's primary elections are Tuesday, May 17, 2022. AP Photo/Sara Cline, file

Oregon is holding primaries for an open governor's seat on Tuesday. 

 

The race and the stakes: 

The current governor, Democrat Kate Brown, can't seek reelection because of term limits in the state. 

Former House Speaker Tina Kotek and state Treasurer Tobias Read are frontrunners in the race for the Democratic nomination — against 13 other Democrats. Kotek and Read are the most well known after lengthy careers in state politics.

An even more crowded field of 19 Republicans is also in the race. 

Primary winners in Oregon are determined through a plurality vote, meaning the candidate with the highest percentage of votes wins even if they don't have the backing of a majority of voters. Whoever wins the Democratic primary is expected to face the Republican nominee as well as Betsy Johnson, a well-funded independent and former Democratic state senator, in the November 8 general election.


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The State Supreme Court in February rejected a bid by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to run on the ticket because he didn't meet Oregon's residency requirements. 

Oregon is a solidly blue state when it comes to presidential elections, and a Republican hasn't won a gubernatorial race there since 1982. But Republicans, trying to benefit from national headwinds on issues like high costs, education, and public safety, are hoping that voters might give them a shot this year.

The leading GOP candidates for governor are Christine Drazan, the former minority leader of the Oregon House, and Bob Tiernan, according to a poll by Nelson Research.

Others leading in fundraising are Dr. Bud Pierce, an oncologist who previously ran for governor, and Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam, who criticized Brown's COVID-19 mitigation measures and incorrectly called the 2020 presidential election "fraudulent" even though Oregon didn't change its voting rules in response to the pandemic.  

Republicans are also aiming to capitalize on the vitriol against Brown, who implemented some of the longest and most sweeping COVID-19 restrictions of any state in the US. A recent poll from Morning Consult found that she was the most unpopular governor in America. 

Managing the homelessness crisis in Oregon is among the top issues candidates are running on, and Republicans are blaming Democrats for failing to deliver on the issue after years of being in control of the state. 

Meanwhile, issues on the Democratic ticket include the climate crisis and expanding care for people with addictions. This, after Oregon voters in 2020 passed a ballot that decriminalized possessing low amounts of illicit drugs, including heroin and meth. 

In Oregon, which holds its elections entirely by mail, voter turnout is lagging compared to previous years, the Oregon Capital Chronicle reported. One week out from May 17, less than 10% of voters had cast their ballot. 

Follow Insider's live coverage of all of Tuesday night's primaries

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