Kate Brown wins 2-year term as Oregon governor

She defeated opponent Republican Bud Pierce to secure her position as Oregon's governor.

Kate Brown celebrates her election for 2 more years as Oregon governor, November 8, 2016 (KOIN)
Kate Brown celebrates her election for 2 more years as Oregon governor, November 8, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Democratic Gov. Kate Brown won the gubernatorial election on Tuesday evening.

She defeated opponent Republican Bud Pierce to secure her position as Oregon’s governor for the remaining 2 years of John Kitzhaber’s term. Oregon’s next gubernatorial election will be n 2018.

When John Kitzhaber easily won re-election as Oregon’s governor in November 2014, no one actually believed the state would have another race for governor 2 years later.

Then Kitzhaber resigned amid allegations and investigation of influence-peddling surrounding him and his fiancee’ Cylvia Hayes in February 2015. Since Oregon does not have a lieutenant governor, the next-in-line is the Secretary of State.

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And that’s how Kate Brown became governor.

Early on it was widely assumed she would run to fill the remaining 2 years of Kitzhaber’s term. She did and is running this November as the incumbent governor.

Bud Pierce won a spirited Republican primary and began the tough test of mounting a statewide campaign against an incumbent with name recognition.

The debates proved somewhat problematic for Pierce, a novice politician who spent his career as a doctor.

Oregon gubernatorial candidates Kate Brown and Bud Pierce.
Oregon gubernatorial candidates Kate Brown and Bud Pierce.

During their second debate, Brown revealed she was a victim of domestic violence. Pierce respondedy by saying successful women aren’t as susceptible to domestic abuse as those on lower economic rungs.

That set off a firestorm in the gubernatorial race. A few days later, Pierce took “full responsibility and ownership” for the remark, and said he learned a great deal about the issue following the remark. He also sent a written apology while his spokeswoman stepped down.

Pierce also initially supported GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. But after Trump’s 2005 comments about women surfaced, Pierce said he found those comments “deeply disturbing,” and said as governor he’ll improve the lives of Oregon’s women.”

On the issue of education, Pierce critiqued Brown, saying Oregon’s schools slipped in national rankings while she was in the statehouse.

Brown said a proposed major tax increase on corporations — Measure 97 — would help reduce class sizes and pay for an Oregon Health Plan expansion.

Whoever wins this election will serve 2 years. Then Oregon will have a gubernatorial race for a full 4-year term.

Pierce spoke with KOIN 6 News early Tuesday evening before voting ended in the Beaver State and said he’s “completely happy with the determination of the voters.”

“Whatever they decide, I am at peace with, and it’s great,” he said.

The doctor said the most challenging part of this campaign has been deveoping the style of presenting to people in a little bit of a political way.

“I’m very comfortable as a doctor and meeting people and talking to them, but it’s a little different in politics in message and especially the way we talk to larger groups,” he said.

The Republican challenger called himself an underdog in this election and said he spent enough money to get his message out.

Whether he wins or loses, Pierce said he’ll spend Wednesday in his medical office seeing patients.

“I’ve been out for 9 weeks in a row, the longest in my medical career,” the Republican challenger said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report