Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin campaigned in Oregon on Tuesday night as Republicans stepped up their efforts to win over a state that hasn’t elected a GOP governor since 1982.
He presented Christine Drazan, who has a small lead in the polls, with one of his famous red vests that stunned an energetic crowd in Aurora, Oregon.
He said she was lining up to repeat his upset victory in a state long considered deep blue, a victory he believes would boost the entire Republican movement.
“It would be a shot that would be heard around the world,” he told reporters after the meeting, describing it as a sign that voters were tired of the progressive leadership.
It comes days after President Joe Biden visited the state, in a sign that both sides know Oregon is up for grabs.
Organizers said Youngkin’s performance drew more than 2,000 people to the rally in a barn in rural Oregon, about 40 minutes from the city of Portland.
Presenting herself as an agent of change, Drazan criticized her Democratic opponent for doing nothing to stop the decriminalization of drugs in the state and the defunding of the police.
Instead, she vowed to use a blend of compassion and the law to clean up cities like Portland, which are experiencing record lawlessness.
“We’re going to offer services and then we’re going to hold people accountable,” she said.
“And when we do, we’re going to support the people who are struggling, restore community safety, restore downtown, get our parks back, and restore Oregon’s beauty.”
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin joined Christin Drazan on stage in Aurora, Oregon, on Tuesday as Republicans try to red the liberal state for the first time in 40 years.
Drazan has a small lead in the race to become Oregon’s next governor. She has charted a similar course to Youngkin by keeping former President Donald Trump at bay
Organizers said more than 2,000 people attended the rally a day before the postal voting began
Drazan pledged to tackle the crime and homelessness that ravage Oregon’s cities
Their meeting was held by mail a day before the first day of the vote — a 20-day process that analysts say gives Democrats a head start.
Drazan hit many of the major problems for Oregon voters, from the COVID-19 school closures and high inflation to the scourge of hard drugs, homelessness and crime that is sweeping Oregon’s cities.
If Drazan is to close the deal and become the first Republican to occupy the governor’s mansion since 1982, she will have to convince independents and Democrats disillusioned with the state’s leftist movement.
Like Youngkin, she has not embraced former President Donald Trump and his allegations of voter fraud — political suicide in a liberal state like Oregon.
It offers an alternative path to hardline Trumpers like Kari Lake, in Arizona.
And that is Democrats’ concern that Biden flew to Portland on Friday to boost Tina Kotek’s campaign.
He gave a speech explaining what he believed to be the economic success story of his administration.
Youngkin’s success in Virginia has sparked speculation that he could use it as a launch pad for a 2024 presidential campaign. He is due to campaign in Arizona on Wednesday for Kari Lake.
The city of Portland is dotted with small homeless camps. The Pearl District is one of the hardest hit areas, keeping tourists and shoppers away
Homelessness has hit the city and drug use has apparently worsened since a 2020 referendum decriminalized hard drugs, including heroin, cocaine and meth.
That sparked laughter from Drazan and Youngkin as they spoke to reporters after their meeting.
Youngkin said: “What we’re seeing across the country is that the Progressive-Liberal Democrats are totally out of touch with what’s happening at the kitchen tables in America and to believe that our economy is in good shape just emphasizes how unreachable they are. ‘
Drazan on Tuesday highlighted the closure of a Starbucks store in downtown Portland for safety reasons.
“If even coffee shops can’t stay open in Portland for public safety reasons, something has to change,” she tweeted.
“Politicians deployed their own power before they kept our communities safe.”
Drazan has had a good month, rising in the polls to the point where polls labeled the race a throw.
An average of polls tracked by political website FiveThirtyEight gives her a three-point lead over Democratic candidate Tina Kotek.
Last year, Portland registered a record of 90 homicides, breaking the previous record of 66.
One of the most controversial issues is the 2020 referendum, when voters agreed to decriminalize small amounts of hard drugs.
According to polls, the Oregon governor’s race is now a battle between Democratic candidate Tina Kotek and Republican Christine Drazan, who has built a narrow lead
Rolling poll averages suggest Drazan is slightly ahead of Democratic Party candidate Tina Kotek, as this poll published this week by Emerson College Polling
Drazan’s campaign has portrayed Kotek as offering more of the same awakening policies as the government of outgoing Governor Kate Brown.
At the same time, Betsy Johnson, a former Democratic state legislator, works as an independent and is credited with siphoning some of Kotek’s support.
But Greg Leo, former director of the state’s Republican Party, said Kotek had had a good week with Biden’s visit and then an endorsement from The Oregonian newspaper.
“It’s a bit like Tina’s race to lose at this point,” he said. “So you know Christine’s problem is she’s had a wave. How can she hold her peak?’
Youngkin, he said, offered a model for Drazan’s campaign.
“He’s a Republican who won in the blue state,” he said.
“And so, you know, he’s kind of bringing in a new idea that Republicans can be competitive in traditionally Democratic states.
“He’s one of the non-Trump Republicans who can bring in Christine Drazan to really show some energy.”
Drazan has been careful not to join the former president or his claims that the 2020 election was rigged.
That has limited the pool of big names she can call for gigs, but strategists believe it’s the only way to win over independents and former Democrats in a liberal coastal state like Oregon.