Nike co-founder Phil Knight donated $1 million to Republican gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan's campaign, seemingly changing course after giving $3.75 million to a candidate unaffiliated with a major political party.
The latest donation makes it likely that Drazan will have the money she needs to compete with Democrat Tina Kotek in an extremely tight race, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
The campaign manager Trey Rosser said that Phil Knight is a pioneering and respected leader not only in Oregon, but across the globe. It is a great honor to have his support. The $3.75 million donation to Independent candidate Betsy Johnson was more than Knight donated to any other political campaign, and the most individual donor has contributed to a politician in Oregon history.
Johnson and her advisers acknowledged that it would not be easy to win as an independent but reasoned Johnson's long history in the state Legislature and powerful ability to raise money might overcome the obstacles.
Recent polling has suggested that Johnson's campaign is unlikely to succeed. Four recent polls showed Drazan and Kotek in a statistical tie, with Johnson trailing far behind.
Political observers have been puzzled by Johnson's presence in the race because they wondered whether the former Democrat would draw more from the party or from Republicans tired of losing. With her candidacy looking increasingly like a long-shot, some of that support could drift back to the top two candidates.
There are only two candidates in this race who can deliver change and he knows that, said Jennifer Sitton, a spokeswoman for Johnson's campaign. Betsy is proud to have his support. According to state records, Drazan raised more than $13.9 million and spent almost $10.5 million since January 2021 with Knight's donation.
In that time frame, Kotek raised $14.9 million and spent $12.6 million, while Johnson raised $16.5 million and spent $15.1 million, according to The Oregonian OregonLive.