Biden, campaigning for Oregon's Kotek, warns about Trump's impact on states

PORTLAND, Ore., Oct 15 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden warned that former President Donald Trump's hold on the Republican Party would spill into state government on Saturday during an event to boost Democrat Tina Kotek in Oregon's tight race for governor.

Biden, who is finishing a western travel swing that included stops in Colorado and California, came to Oregon in part to help Kotek, who supporters hope will keep the governorship in Democratic hands in a state the president won handily in 2020.

Kotek is running against Republican Christine Drazan and an independent candidate, Betsy Johnson, a former Democrat who is financially backed by Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Recent public opinion polls suggest Drazan has pulled into the lead.

Biden, a Democrat, praised Kotek as an "articulate, tough, committed woman" and emphasized the stakes of state leadership contests.

"As long as Trump controls the Republican Party, he's going to have incredible impact on state legislative bodies," and state government, Biden said at a reception for Kotek.

He said the role of governors in the country was increasing exponentially and said Kotek's race mattered well beyond Oregon.

"She's rational. She's smart," he said of Kotek.

Thirty-six of the 50 U.S. states will elect governors in November's U.S. elections, with potential impact on abortion access, transgender rights, education and future state elections.

Trump has falsely asserted that the 2020 presidential election he lost was marred by widespread fraud.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Paul Simao

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