President Joe Biden will be in Oregon Friday and Saturday as part of three-state tour which includes rallying Democratic support around gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek.
She’s in a tight, three-way race that national elections forecasters have called a “toss-up” with Republican Christine Drazan and independent Betsy Johnson.
Democrats are concerned Johnson, who is trailing Kotek and Drazan in the polls but is still has solid support, may pull enough votes from Kotek to have Oregon elect its first Republican governor in 35 years.
RELATED: Oregon governor’s race a ‘toss-up’ by national forecasters. They explain why.
“That is a huge factor in this race,” David Turner, a spokesman for the Democratic Governor’s Association, told the AP. “I don’t think we would be talking about this race if Betsy Johnson wasn’t in it.”
Republicans for months have sensed an opportunity in the Oregon race, not just from Johnson’s bid but on a message of homelessness and crime that has been a top concern for the state’s voters.
Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who is facing Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District seat, called Biden’s visit “a desperate attempt to bail out vulnerable Democrats like my extreme progressive opponent.”
RELATED: Oregon 5th among ‘most-watched’ House races in US, election forecaster says
Central Oregon Daily’s Allen Schauffler and Steve Kaufmann are in Portland to cover Biden’s visit Friday. Allen sent us back these dispatches from the trip.
2:22 p.m. — Arriving at the gate at Portland International Airport
2:41 p.m. — The “hurry up and wait” of presidential visit security
3:19 p.m. — Allen and Steve make it through security
3:54 p.m. — Waiting… again
5:16 p.m. — Still waiting
Allen reports live on Central Oregon Daily News at 5:00 p.m.
Headed back to the tarmac
Entering the secure area
5:33 p.m. — Live from the tarmac
6:17 p.m. — Air Force One lands
6:25 p.m. — President Joe Biden disembarks
The Associated Press contributed to this report.