PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon gubernatorial candidate Betsy Johnson filed a new campaign finance report on Wednesday, detailing about $2 million in recent contributions and a list of donors that includes several prominent individual and corporate names. Oregon Secretary of State records showed the Johnson campaign with just under $2.3 million in cash on hand as of Thursday.
Johnson (D-Scappoose) has served in the Oregon State Senate since 2005 after previously serving four years in the state House. She serves as a Democrat in the Senate but announced on Oct. 14 that she would run for governor as an unaffiliated candidate, bypassing the spring primaries and appearing directly on the November ballot.
Johnson has been a fixture in Oregon politics for years, said KGW analyst Len Bergstein, so her ability to raise money was never in doubt, but the large early showing signals that her unaffiliated campaign should be taken seriously, and that Oregonians are likely to see a clear three-way race in the general election – and a very expensive one.
“It’s going to be hard, when the general election comes around, to turn on any of your screens and not be bombarded by political advertising,” he said.
Johnson’s biggest recent cash contributions were $250,000 from heavy equipment company The Pape Group, $150,000 from fuel provider Global Companies LLC and $100,000 each from Columbia Investments President Peter Stott, Columbia Sportswear CEO Timothy Boyle, Paula Teevin, Harsch Investment Properties, Hampton Lumber, Springboard Group and Sause Bros, according to Oregon Secretary of State records.
Other large donors included Pacific Seafood, Footwear Specialties International CEO Henry Ritz and Gregory Goodman, co-president of the Portland-based Downtown Development Group.
Among the smaller donors, the list also features a cross-section of prominent names in Oregon politics such as Mike Bonetto, who served as chief of staff for former Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, former Republican U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith and Antionette Hatfield, widow of former Republican Gov. Mark Hatfield.
The new round of contributions leaves Johnson with the most cash on hand out of all the current candidates in the governor’s race.
Former New York Times columnist and Democratic candidate Nick Kristof previously took the lead with a Nov. 8 campaign finance report that showed him with just over $1 million and his own list of big-name donors including philanthropist Melina French Gates and the Angelina Jolie family trust.
The other two heavyweight contenders for the Democratic Party nomination are Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read, whose campaign had about $500,000 in cash on hand as of Thursday, and Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, who had about $472,000.
Among the Republican candidates, West Linn political consultant Bridget Barton had the most cash on hand as of Thursday with about $253,000, followed by Sandy mayor Stan Pulliam with about $201,000 and Salem physician Bud Pierce, who previously ran for governor in 2016, with about $197,000 – although Pierce had raised the most and spent the most of the three.
Not everyone who raises the most money wins, Bergstein noted, but the money is an important signal of the candidates’ ability to ensure their messages reach voters.