OR-Gov: Kitz awakens?

Carla Axtman

Early this week, I made note of the apparent tight race for Oregon Governor between John Kitzhaber and Chris Dudley. I'm not sure if that post heard 'round the state lit a fire under Dr. John or if their britches were already smoking, but the campaign seems like its (finally) gearing up to rumble. Or maybe because the Cook Political Report is considering moving the race to tossup.

Spokesperson Jillian Schoene finally threw some sharp comments about Dudley, the first I've seen on the record from the campaign. And again later in the week when talking about the latest Survey USA poll with Jeff Mapes:

Kitzhaber spokeswoman Jillian Schoene portrayed the poll as good news for her candidate. "They've spent $600,000 on advertising since the primary and his numbers have hardly budged," Schoene said of Dudley.

At least they're saying SOMETHING about Dudley that's not simply dismissive. That's a step forward.

Kitzhaber himself has also begun to call Dudley out on why he keeps ducking joint appearances/debates.

David Steves, The Register Guard:

It was clear in Kitzhaber’s 40 minutes of speaking and fielding audience questions that he’s ready to fight for the job he held previously from 1995-2003. He accused Republican rival Chris Dudley of ducking a chance to join him in a joint appearance. And he alluded to the former NBA player’s scant record of public service (he’s never held elective or public office) as he talked about his own approach to governing during a time when Oregon’s revenues are lagging behind the cost of current service levels.

Kitz went on to say that Dudley had “ducked another opportunity to appear together at this conference in the afternoon,” even after he had offered to come back to the event later in the day.

The Kitzhaber campaign also finally went up on the air this week with their first general election TV ad. Sources inside the campaign describe the ad buy as "a significant buy". So expect to see it a lot.

I'm not entirely sure what the hold up has been in getting this stuff rolling, but it's about damn time. Campaign Manager Derek Humphrey has a reputation (at least with the folks I've spoken with) of being a hardcore, tough-edged and very talented campaign guy. So far, this hasn't seemed like the kind of campaign a guy like that would run. Which makes me wonder what's (or who's) been in the way, frankly. Hopefully this is a sign that Dr. Kitz has decided to let Derek do what he presumably was hired to do--kick some campaign ass.

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    The Dudley campaign realized during the GOP primary debates that their man was meat for the grinder if he ever got in the ring with someone who knew what he was talking about.

    Now their strategy is to assemble a bipartisan group of legislators for a photo op with Dudley, out there by the pool on his private estate, nothing on the public record, to show how governing the state is easy, just some friends working out the state's problems, cutting some private deals, gee...what's not to like about that?

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    I would tend to agree. It's July still, a really bad month to reach people. Dudley's raising but also has a high burn rate. The defining of Kitz is open to revision, but he's still a largely known quantity. Going negative this early makes him look scared, and isn't relaly his style anyway. I think the "awakens" tag is a bit overblown, since it doesn't seem the ad would be any kind of response to recent news events.

    The ad is a decent intro, but as intros typically are, it's way short on specific ideas. It's a Kindly Uncle spot, appropriate for right now IMO.

    Ted looked pretty sleepy and let Saxton get a jump on him in funds and visibility. Now, I think the hiring of Jim Ross energized a moribund campaign and they never looked back, but the point is that summer is never a good time to analyze the dynamic of a race. Half the teams usually aren't even playing.

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    Usually, I think it the best idea to not even ever mention the name of an opponent in a campaign but ducking out of debates is downright contrary to why this country was founded. The principles of open debate and the democratic process are core to our Constitutional Republic. Voters deserve debates plus, they are fun (especially if Joe Biden is involved)!

    I do not knock the Kitzhaber campaign for making Dudely's debate avoidance an issue. Purposefully denying the public debate in a campaign for public office is wrong. I hope voters discourage this kind of behavior in politics by voting where it counts and that's for Kitzhaber, a willing and able debater and public servant.

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      The "not mentioning" thing is what they did in the primary against Bradley, which I think is exactly backwards, considering they haven't taken that approach with Dudley.


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