NBC5 to host historic 2022 gubernatorial debate

MEDFORD, Ore.– Oregon’s historic gubernatorial race is taking shape and candidates are negotiating debates in the fall.


Right now, this is Southern Oregon’s only scheduled debate and will be in our NBC5 studios in downtown Medford.

“We are really excited to have all three candidates committed to being in our studio on October 6th of this year for a full debate,” said executive VP/GM of KOBI-TV NBC5 Bob Wise.

NBC5 has previously hosted multiple gubernatorial debates as well as U.S. Senate debates.

“I love that our political coverage, of course led by Craig [Smullin], has helped us gain that recognition.”

The 2022 Oregon gubernatorial race is unlike any the state has seen.

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

“Those three candidates have very unique views in terms of how they will lead our state,” said Southern Oregon University president Dr. Rick Bailey.

SOU will be partnering with KOBI-TV on the project.

Bailey said the university is thrilled to be part of the high profile event.

“It’s a real honor to be able to do this,” he said. “I think it’s important. I think we’re an important part of this state and I think the candidates are expressing by being down here with us.”

It’s been more than 90 years since Oregon has elected a governor who wasn’t a Republican or a Democrat. But some think former Democratic State Senator Betsy Johnson could change that.

While the non-affiliated candidate has plenty of name recognition, she’s going against strong candidates from the major parties.

Former house minority leader Christine Drazan is looking to become the state’s first elected Republican governor in 40 years.

Tina Kotek was the Democrats house speaker for nearly a decade.

“The voters and communities across Oregon have these three distinct visions and we cannot ask for better than that,” said Bailey.

The candidates have only agreed to one other debate at this time and it is being live-streamed.

It’s organized by the “Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association” and it’s taking place this Friday, July 29.

Viewers will also have a chance to suggest questions before our debate in the coming months.

© 2023 KOBI-TV NBC5. All rights reserved unless otherwise stated.

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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