Few governors in the country – outside of places like Michigan – have gotten the attention of President Trump and his allies in recent months as much as Gov. Kate Brown in Oregon.
Trump has tweeted about the violence in Portland more than 70 times since the summer and claimed Brown “isn’t doing her job.” On Tuesday, during a campaign rally in Florida, he mentioned Oregon again, saying Brown should allow federal forces in to quell the violence and bragged that protestors “would last 15 minutes.”
But during an interview Thursday with Yahoo Finance, Brown indicated that even with the national focus on Portland, another standoff is just as top of mind to her.
It’s the debate in her state over her recent decision to extend Oregon’s state of emergency until January 2021. Republicans have sued the governor, saying she is abusing her authority. The orders limit social gatherings and the ability of restaurants to have in-person dining.
During a press conference Friday Brown, a Democrat, acknowledged, “I know we are all sick of hearing it but that means we have to continue with more effort than ever before.” She added that avoiding informal social gatherings is the best measure to slow the transmission of the virus and help get schools reopened.
On Friday, the Oregon Health authority announced another daily record of cases, topping 600 for the first time. “The second wave we have all been worried about is here,” Brown said.
‘My role as governor is to protect Oregonians’
In her interview with Yahoo Finance, Brown linked the backlash to unrest in other states like Michigan, where a plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was recently thwarted.
“I think it's really unfortunate that we have a federal administration that is seeking to divide us and politicize what is a global pandemic,” she said. “We also have a president, frankly, who is inciting violence and hatred towards others.”
It is “absolutely and completely unacceptable,” she added.
Brown stood by her decision. “I think what's most important is that we are focused on keeping people safe,” she said of the criticism. “That's my role as governor – to protect Oregonians.”
Brown has repeatedly urged her state’s residents to take measures to slow the spread of the virus, including limiting contact with family and friends during the holiday season.
“I wish we had a federal administration that was focused on those goals as well,” she said.
‘Violence solves nothing’
The protests in Portland, which are now in their seventh month has featured the Antifa violence that President Trump and his allies have highlighted, including the death of a man reportedly affiliated with a right-wing group. The clashes have also featured “Trump caravans” where the president’s supporters gathered to engage with protestors.
Brown is looking ahead to possible violence between the groups in the days following the election next week. “We are working hard, we're coordinating with our law enforcement and our local communities to make sure that people can peacefully exercise their first amendment rights to free speech following the election and that everyone can stay safe,” Brown said.
Brown has been a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, but warned both sides of any potential clash; violence “solves nothing, answers nothing,” she said. “Violence against other human beings and of course, against property, is absolutely unacceptable.”
Ben Werschkul is a producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.