Candidates for 2022 gubernatorial debate meet for first debate

WELCHES, Ore. – The first debate between Oregon’s three leading candidates for governor happened Friday.

This is the first time that all three contenders took part in a debate before the November election.

It is the first time the three leading candidates are women as well.

Former Democratic state senator Betsy Johnson, former Republican house minority leader Christine Drazan and Tina Kotek, who was the Democrats house speaker, all took the stage today.

A wide range of topics affecting Oregon were discussed including homelessness, climate change and mental health.

But there was some jabs thrown during the debate particularly by senator Johnson.

“She is suggesting that because someone was at one of my rallies with a confederate flag that rural Oregonians are racist and that you have to be racist to support my campaign,” said Johnson.

“I’m glad senator Johnson reads out press releases,” said Kotek. “I’m not saying people that attend your rallies are racists.”

“While Christine was in Reno poolside, I was on the senate floor standing up for my party,” said Johnson.

“Its a little bit ironic to me to constantly hear my opponents on the stage just be obliterated by how horrible Oregon is on this and that and the other,” Drazan said. “We’re 50th on this and we got to work on that.”

The most contentious topic of conversation was homelessness, where each nominee went back-and-forth about their plans.

Candidates also had the opportunity to ask each other a question at the end of the debate.

And just as a reminder, NBC5 will have all three candidates in studios for a fall gubernatorial debate on October 6th.

NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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