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Week in Review: Homelessness is a Top Concern for Oregon Voters, Tina is the Only Candidate with a Track Record and a Plan that Housing Leaders Trust


In Other News: Republicans Struggle with Defections from Drazan to Johnson, and New TV Ads Focus on Homelessness, Gun Violence, Reproductive Rights

[Portland, OR] – Oregon’s homelessness crisis continues to be a top concern for Oregon voters. This week, the Tina for Oregon campaign released a new background memo on housing and homelessness, and hosted a virtual press briefing with two housing leaders who explained why Tina Kotek is the only candidate for governor with a proven track record and a plan that they trust. 

Ed Blackburn, a health care and housing leader in Oregon for nearly 30 years, said that he researched all three candidates’ positions on homelessness and saw major contrasts. While Tina fought to make progress as House Speaker and has a comprehensive plan of action to address the crisis as Governor, Blackburn said that Republican Christine Drazan and conservative Betsy Johnson seem to offer only “platitudes and snarky comments.”

In response to a reporter’s question about Drazan and Johnson’s attempts to attack Tina’s record on housing, Blackburn did not mince words. From KATU:

“‘To blame funding housing for homelessness is absurd. She’s advocated for and made sure that shelters have been funded all over the state. I’m not sure how that would translate into making homelessness worse,’ Blackburn said.

“State Rep. Pam Marsh, D-southern Jackson County, also came to Kotek’s defense in the briefing.

“‘Tina Kotek is the candidate who has stepped up to use our state resources in ways never seen before. She had the position of Speaker to really drive the development of housing. As a governor, she will have the opportunity to bring together the private sector, the labor sector, state agencies that may have a different part of this and start to accelerate the whole response to housing in another way,’ Marsh said.”

Blackburn added: “This is serious and it’s not just about getting votes in November, it’s about doing something… It’s always easy to criticize people who have actually been doing something, but to blame them for the problem is a little nutso… It’s like saying an emergency department physician and the nurses are responsible for the traffic accidents that are happening out there… It makes no sense.”

Rep. Marsh also explained how Drazan and Johnson both opposed efforts to expand emergency shelter in the middle of the pandemic by converting vacant motels into shelter spaces. Rep. Marsh worked with Tina to overcome opposition from Republicans and Betsy Johnson, and they secured funding for the innovative project, known as Project Turnkey, which has been a huge success

“Here’s my message to Oregonians this November,” Rep. Marsh said. “If you’re making your decision about who to vote for based on who will actually solve our homelessness and housing crisis, Tina is the only candidate who fits that bill. Drazan and Johnson not only failed to lead during their time in the legislature, they voted no and even tried to block the solutions that others identified.”

In other news, this week revealed a huge enthusiasm gap between Democrats, who are motivated and excited about Tina, versus Republicans, who are “not fully backing” Drazan and instead going for the other conservative in the race: Betsy Johnson. 

Case in point:

The Northwest Labor Press ran a powerful op-Ed from Oregon AFL-CIO president Graham Trainor, who wrote: 

“Working Oregonians have an opportunity to look at each candidate’s values and track record. When we do that, the only choice is to elect perhaps the most transformational governor for working people in generations, Tina Kotek. Because we will not go back, we will not lose ground, and we will never stop fighting for justice for ALL workers.”

Meanwhile, in an email obtained by the Willamette Week this week, the vice-chair of the Linn County GOP chastised fellow Republicans for defecting from Drazan:

“We must recognize that some are not fully backing our Gubernatorial nominee Christine Drazan. As Republicans this is unacceptable.…

“Many jumping on the ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ bandwagon were ready to fight, and we saw this energy at our events selling merchandise, and during our 2021 Gala that delivered record results. In 2022 that enthusiasm has appeared to fizzle into a melaze [sic] of apathy.”

Also this week, a new poll was released showing that the vast majority of Oregon voters believe that drug use and addiction should be addressed through the public health system rather than the criminal system. As KATU pointed out in their coverage of the poll, Drazan and Johnson are out of step with most voters and want to repeal the new law. Tina is the only candidate who will deliver on what voters demanded: expanded recovery services statewide so that as soon as someone struggling with addiction is ready for treatment, they can find the support they need in their community right away.

Finally, the Tina for Oregon campaign released three new TV ads this week. One features Ed Blackburn and focuses on tackling homelessness. In another new ad, Tina calls out Drazan and Johnson for siding with the NRA over Oregonians’ safety. Third, a new spot this weekend highlights the big stakes in this election for abortion rights.

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