OR-Gov: Kitzhaber challenges Dudley to seven debates

Carla Axtman

Update: 3:45PM: Dudley has agreed to appear at a debate, but not until October 7 --and it's not one from Kitz's list. According to Mapes, its a debate sponsored by Portland's KGW TV and The Oregonian. As I understand it, that's barely a week before ballots go out. Apparently Dudley thinks we don't need to know his actual positions on issues before then. Dudley's spokesperson LeRoy Coleman tells Mapes that Dudley doesn't want to debate until the fall because that's when voters are paying attention. Um...LeRoy, if voters aren't paying attention, then why are you guys shelling out giant piles of cash for TV ads? Gimme a break.

Much as (rightly) been made about the Dudley campaign's inartful dodging when it comes to debating his Democratic Gubernatorial opponent John Kitzhaber. Team Kitz has clearly decided its worth pushing the issue with Dodger Dudley. According to yesterday's press release, Kitz has accepted invites for SEVEN debates, and is asking Dudley to join him.

From the release:


9/9 Eastern Oregon Rural Alliance – Burns Topic: Economic Development in Eastern Oregon

9/23 Urban League of Portland/African American Alliance for Homeownership – Portland Topic: Economic and Social Justice

9/24 Eugene City Club Topic: Early Childhood Education

9/25 League of Oregon Cities – Statewide Representation in Eugene Topic: State Budget


10/8 Portland City Club – Portland-Metro Area Topic: All

10/18 KOBI TV – Medford Topic: All

10/24 KATU TV/League of Women Voters/AARP – Broadcast Statewide Topic: All

The especially interesting part of this is in addition to dates and locations, Kitz's September list has proposals for a broad debate topic that's relevant to each location/venue.

No word yet on whether Dudley has responded to the Kitzhaber campaign on the issue. But Dudley's campaign did release another uninformative TV ad today, so they clearly feel good about the cash they're burning through.

Seriously, it's nice that Dudley wants to "create jobs" and "help small business", and articulating those plans is virtually impossible in a 30-60 second TV ad. But if that's all Dudley's telling us (and so far it is), we don't actually know if he has anything besides platitudes.

So...where's the beef, Dodging Dudley?

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    I have little doubt that Kitz would handily best Dudley in the eyes of most Oregonian's who are interested in watching a televised political debate. However, I cannot argue with Dudley's strategy here. Given the current economic climate, political sentiment and polling, debating Kitzhaber hurts his chances more than not.

    Disclaimer: John Kitzhaber was my next door neighbor in Roseburg whom I have always considered to be a decent guy. I speak only for myself. ;)

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    It's a pretty common pattern.

    A candidate with a lead in the polls and a lead in fundraising, and almost certainly at a disadvantage in terms of policy knowledge, has little incentive to agree to a series of debates.

    Just saying, Kitz should continue to criticize, and I predict Dudley will eventually agree to a few but no more.

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    For a 7 foot guy, he is awfully good at ducking

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    The purpose of a campaign and debates is to test the candidate to see if they can stand up to the pressure of articulating their positions in a convincing way, and be confronted by their opponent. Dudley is already a failure as a candidate if he is afraid and unwilling to do precisely that. With that kind of public cowardice what kind of a governor would he make?

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    "Dodger Dudley." Love it.

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    Oooh, that is good Katherine. Kitzhaber should title his next ad just that!

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