State Rep. Christine Drazan, R-Canby, speaks during a legislative special session on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Oregon Capital Chronicle)
The former House Republican leader has moved to the top of a crowded field of GOP candidates for Oregon governor with less than two weeks left before the May 17 primary election, according to a new independent poll.
About 19% of the 514 likely Republican voters who responded to the poll chose Christine Drazan, who represented Canby in the House until this spring. Bob Tiernan, former Oregon Republican Party chair, came in second with 14%, and 2016 nominee Bud Pierce, who led a previous poll, fell to 9.5%.
Trey Rosser, Drazan’s campaign manager, said in a statement that the poll from Salem-based Nelson Research shows Drazan has established herself as the “clear frontrunner.”
“While today’s poll results are encouraging, the only poll that matters is the one that arrives at 8 p.m. on May 17,” he said. “We are confident that voters will continue to recognize that Christine is the only candidate with the leadership, experience, and vision to start leading our state in a new direction on Day One.”
The poll, conducted April 29 to May 2, also found that more than a quarter of Republicans still haven’t decided who to vote for. That’s down from a few weeks ago, when more than two-thirds of voters hadn’t made up their minds in a poll by the same firm.
Voters have until 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, to return their ballots to a drop box or mail them. For the first time this year, ballots mailed and postmarked by Election Day will be counted.
So far, more than 70,000 Oregon voters – about 2.5% of those eligible – have returned their ballots. That includes more than 18,000 Republicans eligible to vote in the GOP primary for governor.
Nineteen Republicans are running for governor, though the poll only asked about 14 of them. The eventual nominee is likely to receive just a fraction of the primary vote because of the size of the field.
Along with Drazan, Tiernan and Pierce, more than 5% of respondents said they would select Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam, former Alsea School District superintendent Marc Thielman or Baker City Mayor Kerry McQuisten. West Linn publisher Bridget Barton and Medford businesswoman Jessica Gomez, both of whom have raised enough money to qualify for participation in sponsored debates, were backed by 2.7% and 2.1% of respondents, respectively.
Among Democrats, former House Speaker Tina Kotek and state Treasurer Tobias Read are essentially waging a one-on-one primary despite a field of 15 candidates. The eventual Democratic and Republican nominees will likely face a three-way race with Betsy Johnson, a former Democratic state senator now running a well-funded independent campaign for governor. As a non-affiliated candidate, Johnson must gather about 24,000 signatures from Oregon voters by Aug. 30 to qualify for the ballot.
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