By John Celock
New polls show that Oregon’s governor has an easy road in her path to a new term, while Floridians should expect competitive primaries in both parties.
An Oregon Public Radio poll released Thursday shows that Gov. Kate Brown (D) easily leads her leading Republican opponent, state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) 46 percent to 29 percent. In Florida, a Mason-Dixon Poll released earlier this week shows former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham narrowly leading Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine 20 percent to 17 percent in the Democratic primary, with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and businessman Chris King trailing 10 percent and four percent respectively. On the GOP side in Florida, state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam leads U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis 27 percent to 23 percent with state House Speaker Richard Corcoran at seven percent.
The Florida results show tight races for Graham and Putnam, who were believed to be frontrunners in their respective primaries. Putnam, a former congressman, has been viewed as the likely 2018 GOP gubernatorial nominee since he left Congress to successfully seek the agriculture commissioner’s seat in 2010. At one point Florida’s youngest state legislator, Putnam has been a mainstay in Florida politics since his 1996 election to the state House of Representatives, which was followed by his 2000 election to Congress.
DeSantis entered the governor’s race last year and was quickly endorsed by President Donald Trump, ushering support from the Trump wing of the party in his contest against Putnam, who is viewed as the establishment GOP candidate in Florida.
On the Democratic side in Florida, Graham, a former one term congresswoman, has been viewed as the frontrunner based on her status as the daughter of Democrat Bob Graham, a popular former governor and U.S. senator. Graham has been focused on her gubernatorial bid since leaving her Tallahassee area congressional seat.
Levine has sought to position himself from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and push himself as the South Florida candidate against two better known Tallahassee area candidates.
In Oregon, the governor’s race between Brown and Buehler is a rerun of their 2012 race for secretary of state. Brown’s 2012 victory for a second term as secretary of state positioned her to succeed to the governorship in 2015 following the resignation of former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D). Brown won a 2016 special election for the remaining two years of Kitzhaber’s four-year term.
Buehler, an orthopedic surgeon, was elected to the state House of Representative in 2014 following his 2012 defeat by Brown.