PORTLAND, Ore. — Mere weeks after making his latest six-or-more-figure donation to Oregon gubernatorial candidate Betsy Johnson, Phil Knight appears to be switching up his strategy.
The Nike co-founder's latest $1 million donation, made Thursday and first reported by Willamette Week, went not to the Johnson campaign but to one of her opponents: Republican Christine Drazan.
Johnson, Drazan and Democrat Tina Kotek are in a three-way race for Oregon governor, with former Democrat Johnson running as an nonaffiliated candidate and aiming to present herself as an alternative to the two major party nominees.
Knight has been Johnson's biggest financial supporter by far, spending a total of $3.75 million on her campaign to date. He started with $250,000 in January, followed by a pair of $750,000 donations in April. The remaining $2 million came in a single donation on Sept. 1.
The Drazan donation comes just over a month later, and in the interim, multiple polls have showed a close race between Drazan and Kotek, with Drazan holding a narrow lead and Johnson several points behind the other two.
A late September poll commissioned by The Oregonian/OregonLive showed Drazan at 32% support , Kotek at 31% and Johnson at 18% with 15% of voters still undecided.
A new poll released this week by Emerson College put Drazan at 36%, Kotek at 34% and Johnson at 19%, with 9% of voters still undecided.