SALEM, Ore. — Betsy Johnson, the unaffiliated candidate for Oregon governor, has officially qualified to appear on November ballots. Her campaign announced the news in a statement on Thursday.
“Damn straight. This is a momentous day for Oregon," Johnson said. "We have an incredible opportunity this year to reject the extremes and elect an independent governor who will put Oregonians first."
Because Johnson is not running under the auspices of a political party, she was able to bypass the Oregon primary election in May that determined her two major-party opponents: Democrat Tina Kotek and Republican Christine Drazan.
Instead, Johnson needed to gather and submit at least 23,744 valid signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State's office in order to qualify for the ballot. Her campaign turned over the gathered signatures on August 16.
By 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, the Secretary of State's office had updated its listing for Johnson online to reflect that she had qualified for potential office via petition. According to a notice sent to Johnson's campaign, they even overshot the mark — gathering 37,679 valid signatures.
“Since the beginning of this campaign, I have said that I am running to put the people of Oregon back in charge. I’m not running for governor as a 'D' or as an 'R,' I’m running as an Oregonian," Johnson said. "Today the people of Oregon officially put me on the ballot, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to provide a real chance to move this state forward."
The news Thursday sets up a truly unique race for the governor's seat in November. Not only are all three candidates women, but they all served in the Oregon legislature: Johnson was a Democratic state senator before stepping down last year, Kotek was Speaker of the House and Drazan held the role of House Republican Leader.
Despite running without the backing of the Democratic or Republican parties, Johnson has raised more funds than either Kotek or Drazan and has significantly more cash-in-hand after the primary — $4.2 million, when neither opponent can boast more than $2 million.
Johnson's backers include some of Oregon's biggest business leaders and corporations, including Nike founder Phil Knight, CEO of Columbia Sportswear Tim Boyle, the Eugene-based Papé Group, timber products company Sierra Pacific Industries and Portland's own Schnitzer Properties. Knight alone has contributed at least $1.75 million to Johnson's campaign.