Ex-Blazer Enters Governor Race - Almost

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Chris Dudley, who some around here may remember for playing two six seasons at center for the Portland Trailblazers, is putting out feelers about a run for governor on the Republican ticket next year.

The 6’11” Dudley had a not particularly distinguished NBA career, knocking around among six different teams and amassing a career average of 3.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He retired from pro ball in 1998, after which he founded the Chris Dudley Foundation to help kids with diabetes. (Dudley himself was diagnosed with diabetes at age 16.)

Dudley hasn’t formally announced his candidacy yet, but he’s put up a one-page website that announces the formation of “Friends of Chris Dudley” and asks for donations. “I'll make a decision soon and report back,” he says on the site.

Whether he ends up running or not, the reaction to Dudley’s exploratory move provides insight into the curious thought processes of Oregon conservatives.

For instance, most people would regard Dudley’s charitable work as a positive, but at least some Oregon Republicans don’t. “Working with charities ought not correlate directly with good government. ‘Charitable’ politicians have a tendency to donate billions of dollars of other peoples’ money to help the poor and the needy via government run social programs,” says one anonymous comment on the Oregon Catalyst blog.

Another objection to Dudley, as conservatives see it, is that he’s working with Portland political strategist Dan Lavey, who also advised former Sen. Gordon Smith, whom conservative Oregon Republicans see as a betrayer of the One True Faith.

“Dan Lavey is calling the shots on Dudley?” writes another Oregon Catalyst commenter. “Oh boy, talk about the kiss of death! This is a very bad sign for Chris Dudley's prospects. … Lavey engineered Gordon Smith's loss [in 2008] by systematically ensuring that Smith, year in and year out, continued to give the middle finger to conservatives.”

Let’s see … Oregon is one of the bluest states in the country. It hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984. It hasn’t elected a Republican governor since 1986 1982. It has only one Republican in Congress. Democrats control both houses of the state legislature. Not a single Republican holds a statewide office.

And Gordon Smith lost because he wasn’t conservative enough. The logic is breathtaking.

When you get tired of laughing over that, check out the funny video The Oregonian’s Jeff Mapes has put up on his blog showing Dudley getting knocked on his ass by Shaquille O’Neal. It might turn out to be a preview of what the Democratic gubernatorial nominee will do to him.


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