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Saturday, December 3, 2005

Rescuing Ted

Does former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber really think he might run for that office again? I strongly doubt it. His current suggestion that he might enter the race has all the earmarks of a fake confrontation with current Gov. Ted Kulongoski, with the apparent design of scaring off State Sen. Vicki Walker (D-Eugene), who is running against Ted and telling it like it is.

Kitzhaber says he won't decide about a comeback until after the first of the new year, which puts Walker one more month behind the eight-ball when it comes to serious fundraising for the May primary. As soon as she's gone, watch for the two old boys to kiss and make up.

Kitzhaber doesn't want to be governor again. The thought of bringing him back for a third term isn't going to appeal to enough Oregonians. And he's lived in Portland long enough to be sidled up to by a certain West Hills network that would like very much to have four more years of Kulongoski, or perhaps a term or two with their other lieutenant, Ron Saxton.

Tough call for Vicki. And if I'm right about what's really going on here, a slithery move by Dr. No.

Comments (13)

Okay... I'm behind the ball on this one. Why is he "Dr. No"?

From my perspective, Kitzhaber has been one of the state's better governors in the past thirty years (which really ain't saying a helluva lot). I really don't believe that he wants to be governor, either. I fully expected him to be appointed as the new OHSU poobah. After all, it is a step up in pay, and probably perks.

He was called Dr. No for the many, many vetoes he issued while governor.

OHSU sounds right -- one of the official Network Pork Pots.

The OHSU thing really sounds right.

Suppose Kitz is looking for the OHSU job and what better to solidify that job than to have it assured if he forgets about the Gov job.

Does it occur to anyone else that if Kitzhaber actually had answers to the challenges facing Oregon--tax reform and school funding, for example--one of them might have slipped out during the 8 years he WAS governor?

Don't get me wrong--I'm not saying anyone else seems to have any answers to these problems readily at hand either(including me when I ran for governor). It's just that his offer to come back and save Oregon from problems he not only didn't solve but frankly never offered any suggestions how to solve during the 8 years he was governor hardly seems to be a good argument for giving him another 4 to 8 years to try.

I agree it's probable that Kitzhaber will ultimately give the race a pass. And it's true that many problems remained unsolved during his tenure. But a big reason for that, and his possible interest in returning to his old job, are the same: he had to deal with a Legislature controlled by the opposite party.

Now he faces the chance to govern with Democratic majorities in one if not both chambers. That thought has to be attractive to a politician who is fundamentally a policy wonk. Kitz was in politics because he believes government can solve problems. He had to work with a legislative leadership who's agenda was that government should go away. It's hard to negotiate compromises with people who don't want anything but smaller government.

Concerning Kitz's veto record and lack of "answers," look at the legislature he had to work with. I would have been a veto'ing fool as well and I wouldn't have bothered sending most of my ideas over for a vote as well.

This state has some seriously looney people in office.

Okay, so maybe my memory is starting to go, but can someone please remind me what tax reform plans of Governor Kitzhaber's were foiled by the Republican legislature. And didn't the legislature actually ADD money to his school budget every session that he was governor?

If anything, Kulongoski has had more trouble getting his legislative agenda through the legislature than Kitzhaber did (e.g., scholarships for college students, a guaranteed unified education budget, etc.).

The main thing I remember about Kitzhaber's eight years is that he never really had a legislative agenda other than the Oregon Salmon Plan (which he himself has declared a failure)and the Oregon Health Plan (which he has declared largely unsuccessful through no fault of Kulongoski's).

So what, I wonder, is the agenda he left unfinished that he now wants to take up again with a divided legislature?

Interesting idea of Kitzhaber at the helm of OHSU.

I can see the good Dr. pursuing that throne.

I'm not sure he could be adequately cast as qualified by the clowns (Oregonian) around here who don't care if he is or not.

The job is a CEO paying $600K to $800K.

I think Kitzhaber may view that position and pay far preferable. Even for advancing his agenda.

He would be a fat $cat$ and be free of the governor's schedule while spending all the time he wanted on activism. At the same time holding up the pretense of being a CEO. Like he did as a Governor.

Has anyone figured out if he lives in a tax abated condo in the Pearl?

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Three scenerios.

Jack may be right and this is a scare tactic to push off the smaller fish who put the seat into play and split the fundraising dollars. Similar to what Blumenauer did for Francensconi.


He's isn't planning on running and this is a stab at relevance for his upcoming initiative. The journalists are sniffing and he's giving them a scoop by not providing information. Just coverage builds channels to push for his medical reform initiative that Kitz has been in the news nationally.


My bet is he's going to run in order to create a platform for national signifigance. He will likely win and gain a few bylines nationally in the news. Kitzhaber will then be hitching his star to Hillary in two years and leaving the Governor's office for Health and Human Service cabinent slot or even vice-prez.

Thats my consipiracy and I'm sticking to it as irrelevant and unlikely as it is!

If Dr. Kitzhaber seriously wants to run against Governor Kulongoski, he is either late to the race financially or he's raising money and finding supporters so stealthily as to be invisible. In my small corner of the political scene the Kulongoski supporters have been active and visible, but nothing's been seen of any organization for Dr. Kitzhaber.

I know a woman whose car broke down coming back from the beach some years ago. Her toddler was in the back seat. Miles from anywhere, no cellphone, stuck in the middle of the road.

A fellow stopped, helped her push her car out of the road, and made sure she had help on the way. She wasn't much into politics, but even she could not fail to recognize the then-current governor of the state pushing her car.

If Kitz runs again, he'll get my vote just for this demonstration of his basic and personal approach to public service.

(Sorry, Vicki... you're a close second.)

That was so warm.
I would vote for the good doctor on that basis too if it weren't his first two terms of pushing the state off the side of the road.

Think what you like of his policies and accomplishments. They weren't all good, after all.

But this particular event shows me that he is (or at least was) sincere in his commitment to public service. That's more than I can say I know for a great many people in positions of similar power or influence.

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