Oregon Dem gubernatorial candidate endorsed drug smuggling kidnapper for State House
Tina Kotek supported Ramiro Navarro Jr., who hired a known pedophile to work on his campaign
Josh Christenson • October 18, 2022 2:50 p.m.
PORTLAND, Ore.—Amid rising crime and drug addiction, Oregon’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate has thrown her weight behind a candidate for state legislature who has made time for drug dealing and the kidnapping of her two-year-old son.
Tina Kotek this year approved Ramiro Navarro Jr. after running for Oregon’s 21st district. In 2011, Navarro pleaded guilty to marijuana trafficking and coercion after threatening his wife that it was “the last time” she would see their son before abducting the child, according to court records. Police then found a gun and drug paraphernalia in Navarro’s car. He served 18 months in prison and was charged with first-degree child neglect.
Navarro is the last Democrat from Oregon revealed to have a criminal record. Last week, Navarro himself knowingly defended the hiring of a convicted pedophile as field manager for his campaign. In October, the former Democratic mayor of Beaverton pleaded guilty in federal court to possession of child pornography. Kotek was charged with ignore complaints of sexual harassment while serving as Speaker of the State House.
Navarro, who called himself a “second-chance candidate”, violated parole after his release by showing up to a family birthday party, apparently stealing his wife’s car afterwards. Police later found Navarro’s prison ID inside the stolen car, but no charges were filed. His wife took out a restraining order against him after his first conviction, which he also violated by attending the party.
Navarro has made no attempt to hide his criminal past, even noting on his campaign website that he was jailed five or six times since his release. Her campaign has focused on affordable housing, health care, child care, protecting access to abortion, and veterans’ issues. Navarro, who served in the Oregon National Guard, was released after his drug trafficking conviction.
Kotek and Navarro did not respond to requests for comment. Along with fellow gubernatorial candidate Betsy Johnson, Kotek voted to decriminalize all drugs held in small quantities in Oregon. Drug overdose deaths from opioids more than doubled in the state between 2019 and 2021.
The pedophile hired by Navarro was sentenced to six years in prison in 2007 for abusing a child under the age of 14. He did not inform other campaign staff of the man’s criminal record when he was brought on board. Navarro defended the decision in a statement to the Statesman’s Diary, saying the sex offender had “paid his debt to society and deserved a chance at a meaningful job.”
As recently as March, Navarro failed to appear for a hearing where he was found guilty of driving with a suspended license. The Curry County Circuit Court fined him $440.
Kotek has not publicly commented on Navarro’s criminal record or his hiring of the sex offender. She trails 3 points behind Republican opponent Christine Drazan, according the last FiveThirtyEight poll average.