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Oregon governor debate: Drazan hits Kotek as ‘original defund the police candidate’

The Oregon gubernatorial candidates clashed in a debate Wednesday on the topic of state funding for police and law enforcement.

The candidates for the Oregon governorship are Democrat Tina Kotek, Republican Christine Drazan and independent Betsy Johnson.

Following a question about the need for funding law enforcement to combat crime, Kotek was the first to respond.

“When people call 911, they need to feel safe and have the right response at the right time. I’ve always supported our state police,” Kotek said.

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The Democrat continued, asserting that she has always been a supporter of the police and law enforcement.

“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,” she said. “It’s important to have state police around the state to particularly serve our rural communities.”

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Drazan and Johnson both pushed back on Kotek’s response, saying they were surprised to hear her say she supports law enforcement.

“Tina Kotek is the original defund-the-police candidate,” Drazan said during her time to respond. “She did not support the 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 less police on our streets.”

Johnson backed Drazan’s summary of Kotek and further explained, “We’ve gotta start by respecting our police. That doesn’t mean walking with the rioters or excoriating the police when the riots were happening.”

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.

Fox News’ Brandon Gillespie contributed to this report.

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