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Nike co-founder gives Oregon gubernatorial candidate $750K

Nike chairman Phil Knight stands on the sideline prior to an NCAA college football game between Oregon and Arizona State, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP File Photo/Matt York)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Nike co-founder Phil Knight made another large contribution — $750,000 — to the Oregon independent gubernatorial campaign of Betsy Johnson.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Knight's donations to Johnson's campaign now total $1 million, according to state campaign finance records. Oregon remains one of five states without any political donation caps.

This is not Knight’s first six-figure donation during an Oregon governor’s race. In 2010, he gave $400,000 to Republican gubernatorial candidate and former NBA player Chris Dudley. In 2014, Knight spent $250,000 to help Democratic former Gov. John Kitzhaber win reelection.

In 2018, the billionaire gave $2.5 million to Republican lawmaker Knute Buehler, who was attempting to unseat current Gov. Kate Brown.

Brown, a Democrat, cannot run again due to term limits. Democrats have held the governor’s office since 1987.

Johnson is a former Democratic state senator who frequently voted with Republicans on issues such as gun control, taxes and climate change. She resigned from the Senate in December to focus on her gubernatorial bid.

As an independent, Johnson avoids a crowded Democratic field in the primary and will not need to run a primary race to make the November ballot. Instead, she has to collect roughly 23,750 valid signatures from Oregon voters — an amount equal to 1% of the statewide vote in the 2020 general election.

Johnson has raised far more than any other gubernatorial candidate, with her campaign war chest sitting at a reported $5.1 million Monday.

Former House Speaker Tina Kotek, a high-profile candidate among Democrats for the governor's seat, has a cash balance of about $1.15 million. On the Republican side, Christine Drazen — a former House minority leader — has a balance of about $1.2 million.