Should Kitzhaber run for Governor?

Jonathan Poisner

At OLCV, we asked the 1,500 people who get our email newsletter, OLCV Alert, if Kitzhaber should run for Governor?   We told people we'd run their responses in the next edition of the newsletter.

We've received 33 responses in 48 hours.  So we thought we'd post them on our website and share them with a broader audience.  It makes for some interesting reading.

Sorry, we don't yet have a blog function on our website, so no way to discuss over there.

The link is here.

  • (Show?)

    Read all of the comments, and I have to agree with poster 32 (anon).

    I've met a lot of politicians in the past five years and he's hands down the most arrogant, (although Peter Courtney and Alan Bates are tied for close second place)among Dem politicians.

    Talk about an "Army of One". If you're going to support him, it'll be because he already agrees with your position. He's never demonstrated any ablility to listens to the little people very long before the little self-congratulatory grin show up and the gubernatorial eyes glaze over.

    Since I'm not a huge fan of sucking up to enable basking in the glow of The Great Man, I'd support Vicki Walker ideologically and Teddy K for practical reasons.


    A fair amount of your early posters actually think that Ted "can" or "definitely will" lose. Doesn't show a great grasp of actual situation. Yeah, the guy's been less than inspirational, but sometimes a dull and plodding administator is what you need. I wish we had some folks who were a lot less "visionary" in the White House right now.

  • Jesse O (unverified)

    An administrator who doesn't understand why making Measure 37 claims transferrable is bad for Oregon?

    If he were a competent administrator, I'd be more inclined to agree that Ted was what we needed. But he's pretty clueless, both about politics and policy.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)

    As much as I am so not supporting Kulongoski, Kitzhaber suffers from delusions of grandeur and I can't say that his tenure as Governor was even close to successful, inspirational, or original. Send John to pill hill and find someone else to challenge Ted. A strong R challenger could easily knock Ted off, but if Dems take back the House and hold the Senate, it doesn't matter much to me if Kulo loses to an R - even Mannix or, worse, Saxton.

  • (Show?)

    I think Kitz should fire up something like the Carter Center and forward solutions from outside the political process, using the considerable force of his name and reputation. I disagree that he's the bull in the china shop Pat describes--but he's also not a finesse guy, either. More, the truth is that right now I don't think big ideas folks can get it done from inside the system.

    That said, if the choice is no Kitzhaber or a Governor Kitzhaber, I'll take option two. We need vision, badly.

  • (Show?)

    Let's just leave Kitz in a boat on the wild and scenic Rogue River out of cell phone range. He's really popular down south after trying to remove the Savage Rapids dam.

    On the other hand we have Ted who never stops supporting economic development for the state of Oregon. The "O" should assign a reporter devoted to all things the guv accomplishes instead of hyping a supremely bad idea for Kitz to run again. The "O' is guilty of shaping public opinion with its absent coverage of Ted.

    In Oregon there is no candidate that can beat Ted. Republicans can kiss their party goodbye for the time being. Being a member of the party of corruption trickes all the way to local elections..even to Karen Minnis's district.

  • (Show?)

    Over at Western Democrat, Emmett O'Connell is wondering if he shouldn't run for some other office.

  • LT (unverified)

    All these people attacking someone I have known for 20 years or more, I just have to say RUN JOHN RUN.

    Win or lose, I think he would add intelligence to a political debate that is often shallow. And with Kitzhaber in the race, Kulongoski would have to actually explain his actions, not just say he isn't his opponent.

    I happen to believe that Kitzhaber, Courtney and Bates are men of accomplishment, and the arrogant legislators are those like Richarson, Minnis and Scott. This last session, I believe that House members were (by and large) more arrogant than Senators.

    I think Kate Brown has been too involved with legislative leadership and closed door meetings and not close enough to grass roots. It is not only me--someone I met on a campaign over 20 years ago said near the end of the session that when it comes to caring about ordinary folks, Kate Brown was a disappointment and Ferrioli was a pleasant surprise.

    I realize that such conversations may strike some as heresy. But to use the old Mark Russell joke, Kitzhaber, Courtney, Bates (and Westlund) all strike me as men who could each be described as "a card carrying serious person".

    Now, if seriously caring about intelligent debate is arrogant, that is a different definition than I ever understood. And don't forget, the next Governor will be elected by all voting Oregonians, not just those who belong to groups or who blog.

  • Eric Berg (unverified)

    After spending time last weekend with John Kitzhaber, Sen. Ben Westlund and Sen. Peter Sorenson at the Bus Project's Engage Oregon conference, I hope:

    1. Westlund re-registers as non-affiliated and runs for governor. If he doesn't run for governor, I still think he should re-register and serve in the senate as an independent.

    2. Sorenson does better job of explaining why he wants to be governor and why Democrats should vote for him over an incumbent in the primary.

    3. Kitzhaber doesn't run for governor. Oregonians didn't even give Tom McCall a third term over Vic Atiyeh in the 1978 Republican primary. Kitzhaber wants to have a serious discussion about health care and other ideas. In order to do this, he should run for president. Americans are hungry for that type of discussion and will respond to non-cookie cutter candidates such as Kitzhaber. I also think he's more than qualified to serve in the White House. Just compare his eight years as governor to W's six.

  • LT (unverified)

    Apparently the suspense will be over soon--just read on the SJ website that he has a press conference scheduled in Portland.

  • Fool's Gold (unverified)

    SHOULD he run? What a joke.

    The point is, he ain't gonna run, and was never really thinking about it. He's been using the press (and abusing Kulongoski) by pretending to be interested in order to get himself back into the limelight.


    1. To promote his health care reform idea, which would do away with medicare and medicaid and is therefore unlikely to be taken seriously on its own.

    2. He desperately misses all the attention.

    Hopefully, Kitzhaber's mirror preening has been fulfilling, because the federal waivers he would need for #1 to happen would basically require him to become President first.

    Say what you will about Kulongoski - at least the guy didn't bail when things got tough. Ridiculous how easily duped the press has been by Kitzhaber.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    I've always liked John K., but the people over on this side of the State really don't. I have engaged in many conversations about this, and really can't make heads or tails out of why people don't like him. They say he's wishy washy, then can't tell you about what. They say he's weak, but have no examples. They say he's arrogant, but again have no examples.

    On this side of the State, Ted K. could easily beat John K. -- And as the leading area of population growth (Central Oregon) we should be more and more mindful of that.

    There is an image of him out here that appears unfounded, but nonetheless it exists.

    On the other hand, Ted K. reminds me of Straub. Bland. He's doing the job, and some good things have happened, but nothing exciting.

    We need to remember that every year John K. was governor, both houses of the Oregon Legislature were controlled by the Republicans. It was difficult to do anything with those people.

  • LT (unverified)

    We need to remember that every year John K. was governor, both houses of the Oregon Legislature were controlled by the Republicans. It was difficult to do anything with those people.

    Once again, Steve is wise.

    I had a conversation with a Republican friend once who criticized Kitzhaber's number of vetoes.

    I asked how many of those were the Gov. saying "if you write the bill that way I will veto it, maybe you want to change the wording" and the Republican legislative leadership took pride in daring him to veto the legislation.

    The Republican friend admitted that some of the vetoes were for that reason.

    When I see cracks like "preening" or "delusions of grandeur", I wonder what people are afraid of. One of Kitzhaber's signal traits is not doing same old same old, not saying "but we have always done it that way".

    Is it possible the snide remarks come from people comfortable with the status quo and not with having to actually think about how to make things better? Whenever I see criticism like that in the previous paragraph, I remember a professional man I know. He is a swing voter who leans Republican. He voted for Kitzhaber in 1994 after seeing the 2 nominees at Rotary. Kitzhaber struck him as a serious man who talked substance, Smith struck him as "just another slick politician".

    This is a professional man busy with work and family. There are lots of other people in other occupations too busy with work and family to follow politics closely. Aren't they the folks who decide elections? Just asking.

  • fournier (unverified)


    dr. k would tear apart what little exists of unity in the oregon democratic party and throw the election to mannix. let's get behind "the kulo" early and enjoy popcorn while the r's beat each other bloody in the primary. ted can pick up the pieces and the dems can focus on keeping the senate and winning back the house.

  • LT (unverified)

    . let's get behind "the kulo" early and enjoy popcorn while the r's beat each other bloody in the primary. ted can pick up the pieces First of all, I think Ted is more respectful than "the kulo" for someone who has served in all 3 branches of government.

    Second, the Democratic Party I used to know believed in the right to ask questions. Are you saying that "get behind" means not asking Ted to explain some of his actions in his term as Gov?

    If it is "Ted, you're doing a heck of a job, we'll support you without question" then why be a Democrat if we are not allowed to ask members of our own party to explain their actions?

    If this is to be a year of the D team vs. the R team, then I say RUN BEN RUN because we need someone in the gov. race with a vision who is comfortable explaining both proposals and record in office.

  • JTT (unverified)

    LT- just it "Run Ben Run" or "Run John Run"?

  • LT (unverified)

    JTT--either or both.

    Just to make myself clear. I know and admire both Ben Westlund and Dr. John Kitzhaber. One thing they share is a seriousness of purpose combined with the ability to explain their vision and proposals, and the ability to communicate with ordinary citizens who may be impressed with John and/or Ben although not be impressed by politicians or activists as a whole.

    Ask yourself, when was the last time we really had a serious debate in the Gov. campaign? The closest I can think of is the online town hall (which I think Kari might have had something to do with) on Kulongoski for Gov. website.

    Can you seriously say that there was an issue debate between Ted and Kevin, or was it mostly soundbites, slogans, and generalized shallow rhetoric?

    Having encountered some people over Christmas who campaigned for Kevin last time but are supporting Atkinson this time, I don't think the Ted v. Kevin rematch is as sure as some pundits believe.

    At least there were SOME issues discussed in the Kitzhaber vs. Smith, Roberts vs Frohnmayer et al, Neil vs. Norma campaigns. I recall going to a debate latter one. Some of us who had known Norma for years were disappointed in the campaign she ran--as if consultants were telling her not to be herself or something. In that debate, she asked a dumb question in the sense of how stupid it is to ask a question which opens yourself up for an attack. I recall some saying to friends "you walked right into that one, Norma" when Goldschmidt (who'd been prepped by researchers who had studied State Rep. Paulus's voting record) said "Gee, that's real interesting given your voting record on..."

    There has been too much of the attitude recently that during the "pregame show" the candidates should be "handicapped" as if they were prized racehorses, then the whole campaign will be who is ahead and who is behind. I think we need public discussion of all sorts of issues--the kind where candidates debate substance back and forth and citizens get involved by debating the issues with their friends. As in "I like --- approach because...".

    So call me a cockeyed optimist, or naive, or heretical, or whatever, but if Ben and/ or John were in the race we'd have more chance of substance than with "accept Ted and watch the Republicans self destruct" or whatever.

    A long time ago on this blog, Sorenson said "we need a leader, not a mediator". He never explained precisely what he meant.

    A friend says he won't support any candidate without seeing their vision for the next 10 years and the steps to carry that out.

    When Sorenson provides those steps and that vision, he might be ready for prime time. But speaking as someone who once admired Sorenson, I have yet to see he is Gov. material.

    Does that answer your question?

  • sasha (unverified)

    I fervently hope Kitzhaber runs.

    He'd probably win the primary, which would be tacit admission that Democrats don't have any new ideas, and must look backward in the desparate hope that the past has answers for today's challenges.

    If Kitzhaber is the nominee, even Mannix might actually win, and Saxton would destroy him.

  • LT (unverified)

    Mannix beat Kitzhaber?

    If Kitzhaber is the nominee, even Mannix might actually win, and Saxton would destroy him.

    The guy who wanted to lay off and then rehire all public employees will "destroy" the former Governor?

  • Winston Wolfe (unverified)

    Hey Kids,

    Kitzy is the Oregon version of the "Runaway Bride."

    So say good bye ya'll.

  • (Show?)

    If Kitzhaber wants to run for office, perhaps he could challenge Gordon "Trees, Fish and Agriculture are going to save Oregon" Smith for Senate in 2008. Whoever's going to run in that race ought to be starting now and I think Kitzhaber is a contendah.

  • James Mattiace (unverified)

    By the time this posts I will probably be too late and Dr. Kitzhaber (Kitz, Kitzy, John, Dr. No, HRH, #1 Eligible Bachelor, and all the other various nicknames he is known by) will most likely have announced that he is not running (11am Portland time) My basis for this? A strong gut feeling, a lack of vibe the last 5 days, and the fact that the number one best place for Fmr. Governor John Kitzhaber to announce was at the Bus Conference this weekend, and he didn't.

    So, let me express my extreme advance disappointment. Or advance my extreme disappointment? Regardless, Kitzhaber for Governor would be the best thing to happen to blue Oregon (small b) in 5 years. I support and value both Senator Vicki Walker and Commissioner Pete Sorenson. I love Walker's fire and fighting instinct for what's right, I love Sorenson for how expertly he understands politics and all that he does to support Oregon's everyday schmoe (read: Mr and Mrs. Joneses). Both of these people are what Oregon needs. A fighter and a strategist.

    Our current Governor is neither.

    Governor Kitzhaber is both.

    However, the most important thing facing this state is NOT who sits in Mahonia Hall (although its pretty darn important), but who sits on the dais in the House and Senate. A Kulongoski vs (fill in the blank) race will put the left to sleep. I cringe at trying to rally my union's members to get out the vote for Teddy K. And if the average Oregonian can't be persuaded to vote for Governor, how in the H-E-double hockey sticks will we get them to vote for Brian Clem, Jean Cowan, Rob Brading, and Chris Edwards for House? And if those four don't win (as well as defend Larry Galizio, Arnie Roblan, Phil Barnhart, Betty Komp and others), what will change? A virtual Senate veto on House shenanigans is all that will be left. And if Kulongoski's people continue to raise money for Republican Senate candidates (see Tues. Willamette Weekly, Thursday Eugene Weekly, and tomorrow's Oregonian) we might not even have that.

    Get the candidate who excites the people in the trailer parks, sleepy subdivisions, and oak lined Craftsmans and we got it all. Mr. Kulongoski ain't it. Ms. Walker and Mr. Sorenson are it, but only if those Oregonians are paying attention. Dr. John is most definitely it and the press has done his advance work for him.

    Please, please, please, let me get a phone call at 11:05am that tells me Kitz is in. If not I'll have to choose between my two favorite Lane Countyites, and I sincerely hope one of them is running for the Senate anyway to make my choice easier. Either way, I will vote anyone but Kulongoski. You dance with them who brung ya, and frankly Ted is a wallflower.

    James Mattiace

  • aaron (unverified)

    He should run for President, not governor.

  • (Show?)

    If Kitz runs he divides the Democrats and a Republican will be guv.

  • Jesse O (unverified)

    Frankly, Ted has already divided the Democrats. We're having a robust discussion because Ted has abandoned the party who brought him there: screwing labor and screwing the environment.

    And if it takes a Republican becoming gov'r to send a message to our leading Democrats that you don't screw your core values, then bring it on -- it might be a more powerful message that way. Short term pain? yes. Worth it? I think so.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    I haven't seen any relevant polling, but my guess is that Kitz would beat both Ted and anyone the R's would run. Will Kitz run? I doubt it.

  • skeptical (unverified)

    Kitz just announced he ain't running! Damn.

  • (Show?)

    We need to remember that every year John K. was governor, both houses of the Oregon Legislature were controlled by the Republicans. It was difficult to do anything with those people.

    Bingo. I refute the notion that he's arrogant. He's strong and confident, which plays well in a state more libertarian than liberal. Republicans hate him because he won't back down from them; his veto pen made that clear.

    The only clear weakness in his health plan was it never extended far enough to help the working poor and lower middle class, but I blame that on a recalcitrant GOP, not on Kitz. And as soon as he left, they made it worse.

    Rather than concerning ourselves with defining his weaknesses, we should be considering crossover primary voting to get more moderate Republicans elected to the legislature in GOP areas of the state. That way, our next Democratic guv - not Kitz - will have a better chance of moving progressive legislation.

  • (Show?)

    Explain to me how having a primary "divides" Democrats in the general.


    <h2>Didn't think so.</h2>

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