RGA Executive Director Dave Rexrode joins the Lars Larson Show to discuss the Oregon governor's race

Republican Christine Drazan will face off against Democrat Tina Kotek in the Oregon governor's race this November

RGA Executive Director Dave Rexrode this week joined the Lars Larson Show to discuss the Oregon governor's race. Check out a small excerpt from the interview and the full transcript below.


LARS LARSON: welcome back to the lars Larson show. It's a pleasure to be with you on a Tuesday. always glad to get your phone calls and your e-mails. I'll tell you what that first hour I've got to tell David Rexrode about this. Dave is the executive director of the Republican Governors Association, which hasn’t had any membership in Oregon in over a third of a century because the state hasn't elected a Republican governor in that long. Dave welcome to the program.

DAVE REXRODE: well thanks for having me on there. appreciate it.

LARS LARSON: I got to tell you this the last hour and I’ll tell people who weren’t listening the first hour. one of the candidates who ran in the Republican primary for governor and lost Bridget Barton, who was my choice. She's a conservative and she is a rock-ribbed conservative but she got in touch with me and said I’d like to endorse somebody. And I said endorse ok, are you going to endorse the republican candidate. she said no, I'm going to endorse the independent. it's a weird political situation this year dave because we've got a Republican, a Democrat, and a independent. the two major parties poll about 30% of the vote each and the independent polls 20 plus, so is it's going to be a different kind of election these days. But I want to start with the basic question we had planned to start with you. How do you get a conservative back in the governor's mansion?

REXRODE: sure I think you know the opportunity that Oregon has this year is something that we haven't seen here in a while, but I think it's an unfortunate circumstances, given the trajectory of the state over the last, you know, two or three decades as you mentioned earlier, and I think most folks in Oregon you know liberal Democrats all the way to your point about rock-ribbed conservatives understand that it is time for a change. that we just simply can't keep going the direction the state is going and hope for different results. And so I think that's why you know Christine has a great opportunity to win this election, to bring much-needed change to Salem, and I think she's got a great shot at doing that this year.

LARSON: well she does have a decent chance. in fact the polls seem to put her within the margin of error but slightly ahead of the Democrat candidate although having an independent running who's got a lot of money and who has already got a a large percentage of the polls. It changes the picture a bit perhaps in favor of the Republicans because betsy Johnson the independent is a former Democrat and she still holds to a lot of Democrat positions like abortion where she takes the Democrat side but she's been on the other side of issues as well. So it's a tough one. And what happens Dave when the state nominates as the Republican choice a Republican you know an office Holder of sometime Christine Drazan whose disappointed the conservatives on more than one occasion. Should we just bite our tongues and vote for her anyway?

REXRODE: So I think if you look at this race in particular I think there's going to be a very clear distinction about the direction that each of these candidates is going to want to take the state of Oregon. I think you can see over the years you know Christine has been a leader in fighting what Kate Brown and Tina Kotek and others have done and I think that’s what Oregon needs is somebody going to fight for real change. And I think if folks want more of the same than they have Tina and betsy to choose from. I think Christine has the opportunity to shake up the state to bring some real change to the state and it's desperately needed. and if you want somebody – look, I think both betsy and Tina have been wearing the same Jersey for the last decade or so. they've been calling plays out of exact same playbook. Well now this year you know ones got a purple jersey on and ones got a blue jersey one but then today they're going to operate the same way. nothing's going to change. And so if you want the same results you've got betsy and Tina to choose from. if you want to real change, if you want to see Oregon move in a different direction to figure out a way to get reduced the homeless crisis in the state to fight crime to get the economy growing again to get kids graduated from high school again then I think you know Christine is the option and the best choice to do that for the state of Oregon

LARSON: Yeah I mean look I don't vote in the state of Oregon. I vote, the state of Washington. People know that. I tell them, you know, so that they know I vote in Oregon for 3 decades. I guess what concerns me is and the closest comparison I can come to it is Mitt Romney. You remember, did you vote for Mitt Romney?

REXRODE: for President against Barack Obama? Yes.

LARSON: OK, where are you happy about Mitt Romney as the conservative candidate?

REXRODE: when the choice became Mitt Romney or Barack Obama? there was absolutely no doubt that, you know, we saw what 8 years of Barack Obama did to this country and Mitt Romney would have been a much better President than Barack Obama.

LARSON: see I took the same approach you did. people said you don't like Romney. I said no, I didn't like Romney. I don't think he's I think he's kind of a rino. They said, what are you going to do. I said I'm going to vote for Romney because he's you know, because it's that or Obama and we got Obama and we saw what it did to the country and we got cheating in 2020 and we got Joe Biden. we can see what is doing to the country right now. The country is going to be perhaps irreparably damaged by what's being done to it right now. So I understand the point you're making is just, it's a tough situation for people.

REXRODE: I think it what it comes down to is you know Christine has been a leader in that state. I think she has the conservative principles to get Oregon turned around. you know, from the Republican Governors Association, our view is that we do not get involved in primaries. Our job is to evaluate candidates once they are the Republican nominee what is their path to victory. can they win these races. what are they going to do to be successful and we engage in races where we believe there is a you know, legitimate shot for a Republican candidate to be elected governor. We think there's a tremendous opportunity here to do that. And look, from our perspective, you know, we have governors of all different shades of a Republicanism in our party as governors and, you know, from our perspective, each governor and each candidate has to focus on the issues of how to make their state better. To grow the economy to focus on schools improve transportation and, you know, we've got Republican governors. We have a Republican governor of Vermont and that's a very different environment and what he's trying to do in Vermont and what governor abbott is doing in Texas. And so, you know, for us we view this state as a great opportunity to flip. Again it’s been since 1982 since the last time a Republican governor was elected here in Oregon. we think we've got a phenomenal opportunity do that this year and has the potential to truly change the trajectory of Oregon’s future. I think that's what's going to be a stake in this election. Why, you know, where we're excited about the potential to do that here in Oregon

LARSON: and you know David on a lot of conservatives in Oregon and Washington have been frustrated because we feel as though the party says until you get close, we're not going to do a whole heck of a lot for you I'm glad to hear the Republican Governors Association is going to take a role in this because you see the opportunity for a change of leadership. I hope that Oregon gets a change of leadership because it's in almost as much trouble as the country.

REXRODE: Yeah absolutely look. I'm in Oregon today. I just landed. I'm here the next couple days meeting with folks in the State to talk about how we win this race. we have Republican governors in deep blue states, in deep red states, and purple and in between because I think what we have seen more than anything else over the past couple years is what, you know, strong [inaudible] leadership looks like

LARSON: That's right. That’s Dave Rexrode. He is the executive director of the Republican Governors Association. Dave, it’s a pleasure. I know we're going to have you on before the general election. coming up, I'll get your phone calls and emails…

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