Phil Knight on Backing Anti-Abortion Republican Candidate for Oregon Governor: 'I’m More Conservative Than Nike'

In a rare interview, Phil Knight discussed backing an anti-abortion Republican candidate for the Oregon governor election, which is a tight one.

Phil Knight photographed in Oregon

Image via Getty/Christian Petersen

Phil Knight photographed in Oregon

Phil Knight has chosen to back the Republican candidate in the tight Oregon governor race, Christine Drazan, who has also been outspoken about her anti-abortion views.

According toThe New York Times, he recently spoke about his decision to support her, despite Nike, which he co-founded, being a liberal-leaning company. When asked if being a financial donor for a politician who is anti-abortion goes against Nike’s more progressive image, Knight—who rarely talks to reporters—said, “Nike has good leadership. They make choices, whatever they want, but I think I’m more conservative than Nike.”

He currently serves as the chairman emeritus of Nike’s board and doesn’t have a hand in the company’s day-to-day activities.

A Democrat hasn’t lost the state’s gubernatorial election in 40 years, but this current race is a close one between Drazan, independent candidate Betsy Johnson, and Democrat candidate Tina Kotek. Oregon is a state known for being a haven for progressive views rather than candidates who promote anti-abortion.

Knight’s money might change that, though. While he initially backed Johnson with a $3.75 million contribution, he shifted to Drazan’s side this month by donating $1 million. Knight is Oregon’s richest man and has become the biggest donor to Johnson and Drazan’s respective coffers. In the interview, he said he hopped on board Drazan’s campaign because she couldn’t “get enough undecided voters to make up the difference” between Drazan and Kotek.

It seems, above all, that he’s against Kotek, saying in the interview that he’s “an anti-Tina person.” He has also never spoken to Drazan.

“One of the political cartoons after our legislative session had a person snorting cocaine out of a mountain of white,” Knight said. “It said, ‘Which of these is illegal in Oregon?’ And the answer was the plastic straw.”

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