State Sen. Betsy Johnson running for governor as independent
Sen. Betsy Johnson, a moderate Democrat from Scappoose, announced Thursday she is running for governor in 2022 as an independent.
Johnson, a member of the Oregon Legislature since 2001, said in an email announcement that she wanted to be a centrist option between the extremes of a “left-wing liberal” and a “right-wing Trump apologist.”
“Oregonians are ready to move to the middle where sensible solutions are found,” Johnson said.
The governor’s office will be open in 2022 as Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, is barred from running due to term limits.
Johnson would bypass the May primary and go directly on the November general election ballot by submitting 23,744 valid signatures. Because signatures can turn out to be invalid for a number of reasons, most successful campaigns aim for a buffer of at least 25% more than needed.
If successful, Johnson would face the winners of the major party primaries.
Top state Democrats who have announced they are running for governor include House Speaker Tina Kotek of Portland, and Treasurer Tobias Read. Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla and former Independent Party candidate for governor Patrick Starnes of Brownsville are also seeking the Democratic nomination.
Johnson’s announcement came on the same day the New York Times reported columnist Nicholas Kristof had resigned from the newspaper to focus on his decision whether to run as a Democrat for governor in Oregon.
A native of Yamhill County, Kristof has not formally announced his bid, but took a key step Tuesday when he registered a campaign finance committee with the Oregon Secretary of State that would allow him to raise and spend funds.
No Republican has been elected governor of Oregon since Vic Atiyeh won a second term in 1982.
Several Republicans are lining up to give it a shot. Candidates include 2016 Republican gubernatorial nominee Bud Pierce, Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam, political consultant Bridget Barton, Baker City Mayor Kerry McQuisten, and Ashland business owner Jessica Gomez.