For fans of Oregon political theater, the cast of this year's race for governor is familiar. There's a former governor, a former secretary of state, a former candidate for state treasurer, a former candidate for governor and a convicted racketeer. (The last two are the same person - Bill Sizemore.)
The former governor, of course, is Democrat John Kitzhaber, who served two terms from 1995 to 2003 and wants to give it another shot. According to the polls, he's way out in front of his only major opponent, Bill Bradbury - who, ironically enough, was appointed secretary of state by Kitzhaber in 1999 and served 10 years in that job.
It's impossible not to like Bill Bradbury the man, and impossible for progressives not to like many of his ideas. Among other things, he wants to create a "public option" health care plan for Oregon, prohibit the construction of new coal-burning power plants in the state, and move the state's investments out of big Wall Street banks and into a new "Bank of Oregon" that would make loans to small and mid-sized businesses in the state.
Appealing as Bradbury and some of his plans are, however, we think Kitzhaber is the better choice, both because of what he's done and what he can do.
As a legislator and governor, Kitzhaber spearheaded the creation of the pioneering Oregon Health Plan and a salmon recovery plan, staunchly defended the state's land use planning system, and fought hard - though unsuccessfully - for education funding reform. He's shown that he has the charisma to unite Oregonians behind good policies and the pragmatism and savvy to work with both political parties as well as the private sector to get things done.
On the Republican side, besides the lamentable Sizemore, the main contenders are former Portland Trail Blazers center Chris Dudley and businessman Allen Alley. Although Dudley is a bright and personable guy, we have to give the edge to Alley.
Alley, the founder of Pixelworks, ran a creditable race for state treasurer against the late Ben Westlund in 2008. He also served a stint as Gov. Ted Kulongoski's deputy chief of staff, so he knows his way around Salem.
Dudley, on the other hand, has a thin resume aside from his NBA career. He's never held any government position, elected or appointed. His policy statements to date have been fuzzy platitudes. Likable as Dudley is, Oregon can't afford to give the governorship to a guy who'll need on-the-job training.
Other statewide race endorsements
For State Treasurer (Dem): Rick Metsger
For State Tresurer (Rep): Chris Telfer
For U.S. Senator (Dem): Ron Wyden
For U.S. Senator (Rep): no endorsement
State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Susan Castillo
Measure 68: Allow state bonds to be used for local school capital improvements and establish a revolving lottery fund for assistance. - Yes
Measure 69: Continue the use of state bonding authority to fund Community College and public institutions. - Yes
Deschutes County Endorsement Re-cap
John Gist for Deschutes County Commission Seat #1
Tony DeBone for Deschutes County Commission Seat #1
Tammy Baney for Deschutes County Commission Seat #3
Mike Dugan for District Attorney
Wells Ashby for Deschutes County Circuit Judge
Yes on the Deschutes County Jail Bond