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Oregon Elects Lesbian Tina Kotek as Governor

Tina Kotek
Courtesy LGBTQ Victory Fund

Kotek and Maura Healey of Massachusetts will be the nation's first out lesbian governors.

Tina Kotek has been declared the winner of the Oregon governor's race, meaning that two states have elected out lesbian governors.

The Oregonian, the state's largest newspaper, called the race for Kotek Wednesday morning. Kotek, a Democrat, had been in a close race with Republican Christine Drazan to succeed term-limited Gov. Kate Brown, also a Dem and the nation's first out bisexual governor. Kotek and Maura Healey of Massachusetts will be the first lesbian governors in the U.S.

Kotek's victory "was a hard-fought and expensive win by Democrats, who have a huge party registration advantage in Oregon but faced strong headwinds this year amid voter frustration at problems including homelessness, violent crime and lackluster delivery of government programs and services," The Oregonian notes. There was also an independent candidate in the race, former Democratic state legislator Betsy Johnson, but she finished far out of the running. Oregon has not had a Republican governor since 1987.

Kotek and Drazan have served in the Oregon legislature as well, with Kotek being the first out LGBTQ+ speaker of the House in the state. Kotek has a strong progressive record, Drazan a deeply conservative one.

As of 11 a.m. Pacific time Wednesday, Kotek was leading Drazan by 30,000 votes, The Oregonian reports. About 80,000 votes from Multnomah County, which includes Portland and is the most heavily Democratic county in the state, had yet to be counted, so that was expected to add to Kotek's lead.

Kotek had been crisscrossing the state with Democratic stars, including President Joe Biden and U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and former President Barack Obama recorded a video ad for her. She frequently made this point on the campaign trail: "We do not need to take a right-wing turn to fix our problems."

Another Oregon race with a lesbian candidate remains too close to call, according to The Oregonian. The candidate, Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner, was trailing Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer in the Fifth Congressional District by a small margin Wednesday morning. But there are still votes to be counted, including some from heavily Democratic parts of the district, which stretches from southwest Portland to Bend in central Oregon. McLeod-Skinner would be Oregon's first LGBTQ+ member of Congress. She beat incumbent Kurt Schrader in the Democratic primary.

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