This is an excerpt from Fox News.
Betsy Johnson, a longtime Democrat now running for governor of Oregon as an unaffiliated candidate. When voters asked if she would repeal Oregon’s drug decriminalization law, she responded, “Hell yes.” On education, she declared, “Let’s not worry about pronouns. Let’s worry about mathematics.”
Johnson’s bid for governor has turned the race into a three-way competition against Democrat Tina Kotek, who previously served as speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, and Republican Christine Drazan, the former Oregon House minority leader. Johnson sees herself as the moderate among two extremes.
“I am not beholden to any political agenda or ideology, and I’m certainly not running to do something other than fix a place I love,” Johnson told Fox News. “I may seem like an unlikely agent of big, bold change. That’s exactly what I am and who I am.”
Born and raised in Oregon, Johnson owned a helicopter business and flew in international competitions before being elected to the state House in the 2000 election. She was appointed to replace the late Joan Dukes in the state Senate five years later, earning reelection four times. But last year she gave up her seat to run as an unaffiliated candidate in the gubernatorial race.
“As a native Oregonian, I am embarrassed,” she said. “I’m embarrassed about the breakdown of our processes. I’m embarrassed about policy. I’m embarrassed about how Portland looks.”
Oregon can’t succeed if Portland fails, and Portland is failing “by every metric,” Johnson said at a recent roundtable event with residents of Portland’s Lents neighborhood. The event was held in a small business in southeast Portland, with about a dozen people clustered around a conference table. Many of the attendees considered themselves lifelong Democrats who are now disillusioned by liberal policies.
“It’s terrifying for my kids to walk to school,” one man said during the discussion. He used to enjoy living in a city that “erred on the side of compassion” when it came to homelessness, but said he has now realized that enabling addicts is “absolutely not compassionate.”
Other attendees complained about vandalism, theft and threats from drug users or mentally unstable individuals. None of it was new to Johnson.
“All I’ve done this morning is talk to pissed off people,” she told the group. “Everybody’s pissed.”
Homelessness, crime and “open air drug dealing” are among the main issues Johnson said she hears about from voters, even outside the state’s urban areas.
“What used to be Portland problems are now everywhere problems,” she told Fox News. “There are tent cities popping up in Central Oregon, along the coast, and so the problem is metastasizing. People are frightened and they’re mad.”
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“If you want to go home in your basement and shoot up, fine. But we have turned this whole state into an open air drug market,” she said. “Don’t do it on the streets of Portland. Don’t threaten other people. Don’t become a menace or a hazard to yourself or others. Don’t wield a knife. Don’t deal drugs in front of our kids.”
Close to 100 current and former law enforcement officers, prosecutors and district attorneys have endorsed Johnson and her public safety platform. She has vowed to defend Oregon’s mandatory minimum sentencing law, boost funding for police and show respect for officers in a state that was wracked by historic anti-police protests in 2020.
During her tenure in the state legislature, Johnson consistently broke with Democrats to protect gun rights, voting with Republicans against Oregon’s red flag law, safe storage requirements and stricter background checks, all of which ended up being passed by the liberal majority.
“I’m concerned about the rights afforded Americans under the Second Amendment,” she said. “I don’t think law-abiding Oregonians should be punished for the activities of criminals and the mentally ill and unfortunately, sadly deranged kids.”
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