AURORA — Republican Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis of Albany had a little something for Christine Drazan supporters who packed a barn Tuesday night: The last time Oregon had a Republican governor, the original “Top Gun” was in theaters.
“It’s time for a sequel,” Boshart Davis said before Drazan, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, took the stage for Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone.”
The night before the county elections offices began mailing ballots, hundreds of Drazan supporters — about 2,000, according to her campaign — traveled to the rustic wedding venue, down a cul-de-sac lined with courtyard signs for Betsy Johnson, the non-partisan candidate in the running . They were there to hear from Glenn Youngkin, the Republican governor of Virginia whose unexpected win in that state’s 2021 election Drazan is hoping to emulate.
Youngkin said crowd conditions in Oregon are similar to those he saw in Virginia last year — schools and businesses have been closed because of the Covid pandemic, police have felt disrespected and Democratic leaders are trying to “erase the spirit of Virginia.” “.
“Nobody thought a Republican gubernatorial nominee could win in Virginia,” Youngkin said. “Look familiar, Oregon?”
“This is your moment,” Youngkin told the crowd. “It’s your moment to take back your state, take back your schools, take back your prosecution, and make a statement that, just like Virginia, will be heard around the world.”
With less than three weeks to go until Election Day, Drazan has a better chance of becoming governor than Republicans have in decades. A poll announced Wednesday by the Kotek campaign showed Kotek leading, but all other polls over the past few months have shown Drazan to have a slight advantage.
Drazan has also begun to receive support from Johnson donors – both Nike co-founder Phil Knight and construction company Knife River Corporation switched from writing large checks to Johnson to Drazan in recent weeks after polls suggested Johnson probably wouldn’t would win.
President Joe Biden traveled to Portland last weekend to campaign for Kotek, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, will join her for a rally this weekend. Drazan brought Youngkin, whose path she hopes to follow.
“We’re 3,000 miles from Commonwealth Virginia, but do you know what we have in common with them? A commitment to change,” said Drazan.
Supporters waved Drazan signs and swayed to happy oldies pumping from speakers – Youngkin took the stage to “Spirit in the Sky” and his speech ended with Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop,” which served as Bill Clinton’s 1992 theme song.
Drazan leaned forward in Clinton’s campaign message, “It’s the economy, dumbass,” as she answered questions from reporters after her speech, and laughed to learn that Biden described the economy as “strong as hell” when speaking for Kotek on Saturday stumbled.
“Is that the answer he got when he said that from everyone at the event?” Drazan asked, laughing. “We have runaway inflation. In the state of Oregon, not only in the entire state but in Oregon in particular, we have one of the highest tax burdens in the nation for families. We’re one of the least affordable states in the nation and that’s because of democratic policies that have insisted on tax increases.”
Drazan also criticized Oregon Chief Justice Martha Walters, 72,’s announcement Wednesday that she would retire by the end of the year, giving Gov. Kate Brown an opportunity to name her successor. Walters and Judge Thomas Balmer, who is also retiring this year, are the only members of the court who were not nominated by Brown, and their retirement means the next governor will take office with a Supreme Court appointed solely by Brown .
“Can you even imagine that a President of the United States would have appointed all the justices to the US Supreme Court during his term in office? It’s shocking and doesn’t serve the people of Oregon,” Drazan said. “It was a political ploy that shouldn’t have happened.”
Youngkin planned to travel to Arizona on Wednesday to campaign for that state’s Republican nominee, former news anchor and Trump acolyte Kari Lake. One of the country’s most prominent election deniers, Lake has repeatedly called the 2020 election “stolen” and “corrupt.”
Youngkin, like Drazan, has acknowledged Biden’s victory and walked a fine line by dismissing allegations of cheating while trying not to alienate the large segment of Republican voters who say they don’t believe in the state’s electoral system. He told reporters that both Arizona and Oregon deserve Republican governors and that he will work to get Drazan and Lake elected.
GET THE TOMORROW HEADLINES IN YOUR INBOX