Oregon Republican gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan called out her Democratic opponent Tina Kotek in a debate on Wednesday night, as Kotek discussed her alleged support for law enforcement.
When responding to a question about whether the candidates believe more police officers are needed and how to fill the empty spots, Kotek said she thought more were needed.
“When people call 911, they need to feel safe and have the right response at the right time,” Kotek said. “And we do need more officers. And one of the things the state can do is increase the number of classes and trainings that are available. … I’ve always supported our state police. It’s important to have state police around the state to particularly serve our rural communities…”
“We also need to have different types of response,” she said.
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Drazan countered, stating, “Tina Kotek is the original defund-the-police candidate. She did not support police even when rioters were attacking a police station. It’s stunning to me that she would talk now like she supports law enforcement.”
“As governor, I will fully fund state police,” Drazan continued. “As governor, I will support law enforcement, because we need it in our communities. Our communities are less safe today because we have fewer police on our streets.”
Unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson responded in agreement with Drazan, saying, “I will join Ms. Drazan in saying I’m surprised by Tina’s answer because we’ve got to start by respecting our police.”
“That doesn’t mean walking with the rioters or excoriating the police when the riots were happening. Tina wrote a letter to [Democratic Mayor of Portland] Ted Wheeler siding with the rioters. Ted, incidentally, also showed up with the rioters,” she added.
Drazan’s campaign further extrapolated on the Republican candidate’s point in a campaign email, noting that Kotek said on Twitter that police “continued to escalate tense situations” during riots she called “large, non-violent assemblies.” The campaign also pointed out, “[Kotek] also made dismissive comments on riots and vandalism, claiming: ‘What needed to be protected last night? An empty office building?’”
In her tweet, Kotek called out police officers who she said were displaying “physical intimidation” to journalists.
The physical intimidation of journalists by Portland police officers is a threat to the First Amendment and a free press.
It's appalling and must stop. #orpol https://t.co/Hp2kle66Kl pic.twitter.com/MZVipQ32a0
— Tina Kotek (@TinaKotek) June 17, 2020
Drazan’s campaign also stated that Kotek has “welcomed the endorsements of NARAL, which openly supported defunding the police, as well as AFT-Oregon, who published – and have since deleted” a social media post supporting the abolition of police forces.
“Tina Kotek is the original defund the police candidate, she can try to rewrite her record, but every Oregonian knows the truth,” Drazan Communications Director John Burke stated. “She had a choice between rioters and the men and women who keep us safe. She chose rioters. Oregonians can’t trust her to protect our communities and they can’t trust her to support our police.”