State Treasurer Tobias Read and former House Speaker Tina Kotek lead the Democratic primary field for governor. (Campaign photos)
Former House Speaker Tina Kotek leads state Treasurer Tobias Read in the Democratic primary for governor, but the majority of Democratic voters haven’t decided who to support, according to a poll released Thursday by the Read campaign.
Between April 7 and 11, California-based FM3 Research surveyed 653 registered voters who are likely to vote in the May 17 Democratic primary. It found that 25% would support Kotek, 20% would support Read and more than half have yet to make up their minds.
Read the poll memo
The firm’s president, Dave Metz, said in a briefing with reporters Thursday morning that the poll showed a “wide open” race between Read and Kotek. Pollsters didn’t ask about the other 13 Democrats running for governor.
“Voters have been pretty late to engage in this race,” Metz said. “They just haven’t been paying very close attention so far, so there’s going to be a lot of activity over the course of these last couple of weeks.”
County election offices will begin mailing ballots to registered Democrats on April 27, one day after the April 26 deadline to register to vote or choose a party. Voters can return their ballots by mail or drop them off at the county election office or official dropboxes by May 17. For the first time this year, ballots postmarked by May 17 will be counted if they arrive within a week after the election.
The Read campaign’s poll showed that he didn’t receive a larger share of voters who planned to support Nick Kristof, the former New York Times columnist who was ruled ineligible to run because he wasn’t living in Oregon three years ahead of the election.
Pundits speculated that Kristof’s absence would help Read, as both were trying to appeal to the same group of moderate voters and positioning themselves as outsiders. Read explicitly invited Kristof’s supporters to back his campaign and has been endorsed by Sheryl WuDunn, Kristof’s wife and writing partner.
A November poll by FM3 for the Read campaign showed Kotek and Kristof tied at 19%, with Read at 14% and 1% supporting Casey Kulla, a Yamhill County commissioner who has since dropped out of the governor’s race to run for commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries. Since then, Kotek and Read each picked up 6%, but more voters are undecided.
Thomas Wheatley, an adviser to Kotek’s campaign, noted that Read began running television ads weeks ago. Filings with the Federal Communications Commission show Read first began running ads on cable networks on March 21, while Kotek’s first ads ran this week.
“The treasurer has been running TV ads all by himself for weeks and clearly his message isn’t resonating,” Wheatley said. “Even his own polling shows that Tina Kotek is a stronger candidate for governor. Tina begins advertising this week and her lead will only grow from here. This poll may well show the high water mark for the Treasurer’s campaign.”
-Julia Shumway, Oregon Capital Chronicle