The Republican primary field for the governor's seat is decidedly crowded this time around, filled with experienced legislators and newcomers alike. And while many will see the most promise in former state representative (and former House minority leader) Christine Drazan, our support goes toward the type of Republican leader we believe Oregonians can get behind—one who has business acumen, life experience and relatively measured positions on everything from climate change to abortion: Jessica Gomez.
While Drazan is among the polled frontrunners in this race, with plenty of legislative experience, we can't get past the fact that she was responsible for both Republican walkouts—one during a short session that saw only a handful of bills being passed that session. The walkouts are and will continue to be a stain on her record.
Also among the frontrunners is Bud Pierce, an oncologist who's focused on more funding for drug treatment programs (no arguments there) and a well-funded public education program (no arguments there, either). As someone who hasn't held a substantive political office, whether he's up for the job is unknown—but given that he ran and lost last time around, we feel he's had his opportunity to sell himself to voters.
Some Republicans are leaning into the primary by going "hard right"—for example, sowing fear about the supposed boogeymen of teaching "equity and race" rather than math and science in schools (we're looking at you, candidate Marc Thielman). Sure, that might stir up some of the Republican base, but when it comes to actually bringing forward ideas that most Oregonians can sit well with, we see a lot of promise in Gomez, an entrepreneur who founded her own microchip manufacturing company with her husband at the age of 26, not long after experiencing homelessness as a teen in Southern Oregon. Following the leaked Supreme Court opinion on abortion, Gomez was not shy about professing to be pro-choice—not an entirely unheard-of move in a state that has already codified its laws on keeping abortion safe and legal.
Gomez believes climate change is not only real, but that Oregon can do its part by leveraging the state's tech brain trust—including its universities and tech firms—to develop "exportable technologies that the world can use to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions," as she described in a questionnaire issued by the Oregon Media Collaborative. On homelessness, she proposes an "assisted living" model to help those with mental health and addiction challenges, similar to what Oregon already has in place for seniors. Only after that is working, she says, would she support banning street camping. Her support for increased access to bilingual education also wins points with us.
Republicans across the board in this race are advocating for deregulation in the child care industry to help get more child care slots open, and for the repeal of the Corporate Activities Tax that they believe is stymying Oregon's progress economically. While these are not hills we want to die on in favor of a Republican candidate in a Republican primary, those issues are more in line with the type of "hard right" campaign promises we'd like to see, as opposed to the nonsense about election fraud in Oregon or Critical Race Theory in schools that some feel compelled to trot out this season.
While she's an outlier and hasn't polled high, we think Gomez is the type of Republican Oregonians should see more of. Vote Jessica Gomez in the Republican primary for Oregon governor.
Election Day is Tuesday, May 17.
A recap of our May election primary endorsements:
Congressional District 5, Democrats: Jamie McLeod Skinner
Congressional District 5, Republicans: Jimmy Crumpacker
Oregon Governor, Democrats: Tina Kotek
Oregon Governor, Republicans: Jessica Gomez
Deschutes County Commissioner, Pos. 1, Republicans: Tony DeBone
See all of our endorsement videos in the May primary by visiting the Opinion page of bendsource.com.