On Friday, Nike co-founder Phil Knight contributed $1 million toward Republican gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan’s campaign in Oregon, to help her tight race with Democrat Tina Kotek.
Knight had donated $3.75 million to independent candidate Betsy Johnson’s gubernatorial campaign but supported Drazan as Johnson fell to third in the polls. Knight’s clearly showing opposition to the Democratic candidate for the governor’s office.
KATU News has reached out to Knight for comment with no response.
Chris Shortell, a political science professor at Portland State University spoke with KATU News about the shift in support from the billionaire.
“I think that it would be reasonable to infer from the actions that he’s taken that he views Drazan as a preferable candidate to Kotek and probably sees her as a more viable opponent of Kotek at this stage in the race,” he said.
“Particularly expensive activities like ad buys have already been booked and made. When it can actually help with is making sure there is sufficient support in getting people to actually turn their ballots in,” Shortell concluded.
The reasoning behind Knight’s fight against Kotek is unclear but the battle is an uphill one as the last Republican to win the Oregon governor’s office was Vic Atiyeh in 1982.
Kotek was the former longtime speaker of the state House who could become the first out-lesbian governor in the U.S.
Currently, Drazan, the former minority leader of the Oregon House of Representatives, is running neck and neck with Kotek. FiveThirtyEight’s 2022 midterm forecast views the race as a toss-up, giving Kotek and Drazan each about a 1-in-2 shot of victory.
Drazan holds a narrow 34 percent to 33 percent advantage over Kotek in FiveThirtyEight’s polling average, with independent Betsy Johnson, a former state legislator who served for nearly two decades as a Democrat, attracting about 20 percent.
In terms of money raised, the race again tightens; With Knight’s donation, Drazan has now raised about $13.9 million and spent nearly $10.5 million since January 2021, according to state records. Kotek has reported raising $14.9 million and spending $12.6 million in that time frame while Johnson has reported raising $16.5 million and spending $15.1 million.
The dynamics of the three-way race combined with the unpopularity of Kotek and former governor Kate Brown may deliver Republicans a win.
Want the latest in breaking news and insider information on America? Click Here
Follow Raging Americans on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.