By COLIN STAUB
Aggregating the power of organized workers, Oregon’s labor movement can be a formidable force in state politics. Unions register members to vote, communicate with workers, and at times contribute big-time to campaigns deemed top priority. During the 2022 election season, union backing was the decisive factor in hard-fought competitions like the race for Oregon governor.
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was by far the largest labor contributor in Oregon elections, spending $6.7 million across all races and measures. That came from Locals 503 and 49, political action committees and the national union.
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) contributed $1.9 million, from IBEW Locals 48 and 280, and from Local 48’s PAC.
AFSCME contributed $1.5 million. That came from Oregon AFSCME Council 75, a handful of locals, and AFSCME International.
United Brotherhood of Carpenters contributed $1.2 million.
Oregon Nurses Association contributed $1.2 million, primarily from two separate ONA-funded PACs.
TOP STATEWIDE RACES
Tina Kotek: Labor spent $6.3 million to support the Democratic candidate for governor.
Christina Stephenson: Labor spent $1.2 million to elect the worker-side labor lawyer as Oregon Labor Commissioner.
TOP LEGISLATIVE RACES
Deb Patterson won reelection against challenger Republican Raquel Moore-Green in Senate District 10 with $616,000 in union support.
Mark Meek, currently state representative for House District 40 in Clackamas County, raised $452,000 in labor funding in his successful bid for state Senate District 20, defeating Republican Bill Kennemer.
Tom Andersen raised $333,000 in union funding and won election as State Representative for the 19th District.
Anthony Medina raised $261,000 in union funding in the race for House District 22, but lost the election to Republican Tracy Cramer.
Courtney Neron raised $259,000 in union dollars to defeat Republican Jason Fields in House District 26.
HOW UNIONS STACKED UP AGAINST OTHERS
Together, the top five biggest union political contributors gave nearly $12.6 million in various state races. Here’s how that compared to other major contributors.
Nike co-founder Phil Knight spent nearly $7.4 million on the 2022 election, more than the highest-spending union, giving $3.75 million to Betsy Johnson’s campaign, $1.5 million to Christine Drazan, $2 million to the “Bring Balance to Salem PAC” (which funded Republican candidates and causes), and $125,000 to Kevin Barton’s candidacy for Washington County District Attorney.
Republican Governors Association spent $7.2 million backing Christine Drazan
Democratic Governors Association spent $6.7 million backing Tina Kotek.
State political parties: The Democratic Party of Oregon (DPO) PAC spent $4.6 million, while the Oregon Republican Party (ORP) PAC spent $1.6 million.
The Leadership Fund, which supported various Republican candidates in state races, spent $2.7 million. The Senate Democratic Leadership Fund (SDLF) spent $3.2 million supporting Democrats.
This roundup includes contributions from unions to candidate committees, and from union-affiliated political action committees (PACs) to candidate committees but not union contributions to union-affiliated PACs, to avoid counting the same dollars twice.