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KGW election night analysts reflect on Decision 2022 in Oregon

Susheela Jayapal said Oregon Democrats focused on values and daily issues. Rebecca Tweed said the GOP had some success even if it didn't win the governor's race.

PORTLAND, Ore. — It was a historic election night in Oregon on Tuesday, with three women running for governor and more women candidates running for office up and down the ballot than ever before. 

KGW's election night analysts, Democrat Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal and Republican strategist Rebecca Tweed, reflected on the midterm election in Oregon during this week's episode of "Straight Talk."

Jayapal on Democrats' success

Jayapal said that leading up to election night, the 2022 midterms were popularly described as a referendum on both the party in power in the White House and in the Oregon governor's office. 

But rather than being a referendum, Jayapal said voters took a more nuanced approach for specific candidates. Democrats like Tina Kotek, who won the Oregon governor's race, were successful because they ran nuanced campaigns that touched on both issues and values, she said.

"Democrats ran on the day-to-day issues — inflation, safety, houselessness — that people are concerned about, but (they) also ran on values; ran on civil rights, ran on abortion rights," she said. "(They) took some criticism about that from their own party, but I think that is what ultimately voters were interested in and how they voted."

RELATED: Election 2022: Results from the top races in Oregon and Portland

Tweed on wins for Oregon Republicans

Republican strategist Rebecca Tweed said that while it's disappointing that GOP candidate for governor Christine Drazan came up just short of winning the race, Republicans in Oregon can still point to some meaningful wins. 

It wasn't a runaway race for Democrats, she said, who have been in power in the Oregon governor's office for nearly 40 years, and Drazan brought a lot of energy to her campaign and messaging that resonated with a lot of Oregonians.

"Some of those messages really energized Republicans across the board," she said. "There have been some legislative pickups. I think more Republicans are engaged, more involved. So, it was certainly a disappointing night if you were hoping for a Republican governor, but some really good messages there, as well."

Kotek's campaign and future

Jayapal said Kotek succeeded by talking about the issues facing Oregon and laying out her plans to resolve those issues, and at the same time, she was about to distinguish herself from Governor Kate Brown, who has the lowest approval rating of any governor in the country.

Kotek also didn't shy away from talking about abortion, Jayapal said, which proved to be a significant motivating factor for voters this year.

"She put abortion front and center, and I think those are the things that ultimately brought it home for her," she said. "And Democrats have an advantage in terms of (voter registration) numbers, but she needed to be able to speak to independents. And I think with that very substantive 'I am going to tackle the issues, I am going to bring a level of competence to state government everybody wants to see,' I think those were the messages that resonated."

RELATED: Election 2022: Dems show surprising strength; control of Congress unclear

Tweed pushed back on Jayapal's take, arguing that Kotek will have lot to be accountable for as the next governor, and Oregonians will be quick to scrutinize her performance.

"All the things she said in her victory speech are all things she could have done (back when she was Oregon's) Speaker of the House, as well," she said. "How is it different now than when she was in the legislature? I think Oregonians will be watching her very quickly."

Tweed on Betsy Johnson's race

Oregon became the first state in the country with three women running for governor with a viable third party candidate. Former state senator Betsy Johnson left the Democratic party to run as an unaffiliated candidate in the governor's race, and Tweed said although Johnson came in a distant third, she still had a successful campaign.

"I think she really brought a message forward that a lot of Oregonians do resonate with, even if they went back to their corners on election night. I think that's significant," Tweed said.

Tweed said she hopes both Tina Kotek and Christine Drazan find a way to work with Betsy Johnson going forward.

"I think it sets the course for some new campaigns we will see in Oregon and that's exciting," she said.

"Straight Talk" airs Friday at 7pm, Saturday at 6:30pm, and Sunday at 9:30pm. "Straight Talk" is also available as a podcast.

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