Christine Drazan, the Republican nominee in the tight three-way race for governor in Oregon, is ratcheting up attacks on Democrat Tina Kotek on homelessness and education in a new ad that will launch later Monday.
The 30-second ad, shared first with NBC News ahead of its release, will run statewide on television and on digital. It is part of a weekly ad buy for more than $1 million, Drazan campaign spokesperson John Burke said.
“Leaders like Tina Kotek and Kate Brown have let us down,” Drazan says in the ad in a direct-to-camera appeal.
“It’s time for a change,” she says. “Like declaring homelessness the emergency that it is, getting politics out of our schools and expanding school choice.”
The ad comes amidst a competitive three-way race in the race for governor. Drazan is running neck and neck with Kotek, a Democrat, with Betsy Johnson, a Democrat-turned-independent, peeling off a large chunk of potential voters from Kotek in the reliably blue state. Oregon voters have not elected a Republican governor since 1982. President Joe Biden won the state in 2020 by 16 percentage points.
Both Drazan and Johnson have hit Kotek, who was the state House speaker until this year, hard with a barrage of political attacks over crime and homelessness, which have hit record-breaking levels in Oregon. Those issues have also helped drive down the approval ratings of Democratic Gov. Kate Brown (who is term-limited) to the lowest in the nation.
Drazan, a former minority leader in the state House, is also attacking Kotek on education, leaning into messaging emphasizing school choice and parents' rights in the classroom that has also featured prominently in several other competitive gubernatorial races across the U.S.
Drazan’s ad on Monday comes one day before she’ll campaign in the state with Glenn Youngkin, Virginia’s Republican governor, who flipped a blue state red in a closely watched governor’s race last year by leaning in heavily to education in the final weeks of the campaign. The approach was part of a strategy to animate his base without alienating moderates and won him enough support from women and suburban voters to defeat his Democratic opponent in a state Biden carried by 10 percentage points.
Meanwhile, in another ad released Monday, the Kotek campaign hit back at the ads attacking her.
“Christine Drazan’s ads? They’re just not true,” a narrator says in the 30-second spot. The ad points out that Kotek had called for a state of emergency on the state’s homeless crisis in 2020 and had pushed for legislation that would have provided “more shelters," “more drug and mental health treatment" and "more resources for public safety."
“Drazan killed it all. The only change she’s offering is a hard right turn,” the narrator says.