Two gubernatorial debates across Oregon this week

MEDFORD, Ore.– The race for governor is heating up, with two gubernatorial debates this week, including Southern Oregon’s only debate on NBC5 Thursday.

This year’s race is unique not only because all of the candidates are women.

Voters will also have to choose between three credible candidates.

The race for governor is a toss up according to former State Representative John Watt.

“It is extremely unique, we have never had an election like this in Oregon before,” Watt said.

He believes all three candidates Tina Kotek, Betsy Johnson and Christine Drazan are qualified for the job.

Watt said, “I think it’s going to be incumbent upon Oregonians to pay attention to this race, to do the research.”

Betsy Johnson is looking to become the state’s first independent governor since 1935.

Watt said it’s hard to say whether the conservative former Democrat will take more votes away from Kotek or Drazan.

“A great deal of the emphasis is on that question. I don’t see it having as much validity as each party would like to believe when they accuse Ms. Johnson of stealing votes from their party,” Watt said.

Oregon hasn’t had a republican governor since 1987.

While several polls have Christine Drazan with a slight lead over Kotek, Watt said many of the polls out there aren’t reliable.

“I do not like polling,” he said.

Watt said most polls don’t sample enough voters to show what the 2.3 million registered voters will do.

He said Nate Silver and the Charlie Cook Report are typically the most reliable.

Silver has the former House Speaker Kotek with a slight advantage, while the Cook Report has the race as a toss up.

Watt said, “I think if you go back and look at history, polls are notably unreliable, however, that said, a lot of people will vote based on what they read in the polls.”

Watt said this week’s debates are an easy way for voters to learn about each candidate.

“People need to pay attention to those kinds of things, because they’re hearing the opinions come out of the mouths of the candidates themselves,” he said.

The candidates are in Portland for a debate Tuesday.

They will travel to Medford Thursday for Southern Oregon’s only gubernatorial debate, on NBC5.

You can find updated links to all of their debates here.

You can watch Thursday’s debate right here, or find a live stream on our website.

NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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