It’s an American tradition for political candidates to show up at Labor Day picnics, and John Kitzhaber and Chris Dudley both upheld the tradition – but in different cities.
Republican Dudley put in an appearance at a picnic in Bend sponsored by the Central Oregon Labor Council. His Democratic rival John Kitzhaber attended one put on by the Northwest Oregon Labor Council in Portland’s Oaks Park.
Oregonian political blogger Jeff Mapes reports that Dudley got an invitation to the Portland picnic, but with a string attached:
“Bob Tackett, executive secretary-treasurer of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, said he told someone from the Dudley campaign that the Republican candidate was welcome to show up - but that he'd have to debate Kitzhaber on stage if he did. Tackett said it quickly became apparent this wasn't going to be acceptable to the Dudley campaign.”
“[I]t makes sense that [the Dudley] campaign would not see much advantage in appearing on the same stage with Kitzhaber before a hostile audience,” Mapes comments.
The Dudley and Kitzhaber forces have wrangled over the debate issue ever since the start of the campaign, with the Democrats accusing Dudley of trying to avoid debating the more experienced and savvy Kitzhaber. A televised debate sponsored by The Oregonian and Portland’s KGW-TV is set for Sept. 30, and at this point it looks like it will be the only head-to-head showdown between the governor candidates.