Ted Kulongoski: Punditologist-in-Chief

Ted Kulongoski mused aloud to the Oregonian's Harry Esteve about the 2006 campaign against Senator Gordon Smith -- and the 2010 race for Governor.

First, on Gordon Smith:

Watch, Kulongoski says, for more people to come out of the woodwork to run against Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore. Mrs. Smith may as well buy one of those T-shirts with an arrow that says "I'm with Vulnerable."

"I don't think the field is full yet," Kulongoski says. "Some people in this building are going to get into the race." ...

And they might not all be Democrats, Kulongoski says. The media have overlooked Smith's steady fall from grace in his own party, where bedrock conservatives stew over his stands on the Iraq war and immigration.

As for the 2010 race for Governor, Kulongoski pointed out the open seats for Secretary of State and State Treasurer - and the likely-open Attorney General spot - as possible stepping stones:

The alpha dog races next year are U.S. Senate, secretary of state, state treasurer and attorney general. But one Capitol insider says those are just the prelude to a bigger enchilada

"You have to look past 2008 to 2010" and what will be a wide-open barnburner of a governor's race, the insider says. "Look at that as the ultimate prize."

He should know. The insider is Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who has run for about half the offices in Oregon.

Esteve goes further and names some names:

Treasurer Randall Edwards will vacate the seat because of term limits. He, too, has been mentioned as a potential U.S. Senate candidate, but word is his wife and three children want to see more of him and have no plans to move to D.C.

Sen. Alan C.Bates, D-Ashland, another lawmaker who has that hungry look of someone ready to move up, has said he's considering a run at Smith. Rep. Greg Macpherson, D-Lake Oswego is eyeing the attorney general's office if the current occupant, Hardy Myers, does what most expect and retires.

Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown, D-Portland and House Speaker Jeff Merkley, D-Portland, all make the list of players in what promises to be an extensive shakeup of state politics during the next four years.

But what about Republicans? The Punditologist-in-Chief has a few in mind:

"The guy you want to watch is Jason Atkinson," Kulongoski says, referring to the Jackson County Republican who ran in last year's gubernatorial primary, and who has been voting for green energy and firefighter benefits lately. Others to watch include U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, who many expect to run for governor in 2010, and state prisons director Max Williams, who could take a shot at the attorney general's office.


  • Harry (unverified)

    How come there is no mention of Sen Betsy Johnson for Gov in 2010? She is certainly a player.

    Oh..... should I have not mentioned her name, given the complete shutdown of any mention of that particular Sen with the various scandals of late?

    Never mind, I must not have gotten the memo.

    Back to the regularly scheduled Betsy news blackout....


  • (Show?)
    ...about the 2006 campaign against Senator Gordon Smith

    There was a campaign last year against Gordon Smith and nobody told me about it?

    (wry grin)

  • Moderate Republican (unverified)

    The governor was also a pundit on KATU news regarding Betsy Johnson. He said she should definitely not resign, after he had a little closed door chat with the senator.

    We'll see if he changes his mind after the next few series of articles come out on the good senator's extracurriculars.

  • LT (unverified)

    Max Williams for AG could be the first serious GOP nominee (able to inspire those who aren't strongly tied to each party and like his intelligence and people skills) in many years.

  • Chris Long (unverified)

    Walden haha. After nearly 30 years of being here, I would leave the state. That would require a herculean effort from rural voters and unless something crazy happens to get them in an uproar...no.

  • Harry Stark (unverified)

    Note: I am not the "Harry" who posted above about Senator Johnson.

    Even though many try and classify him as a lightweight, Atkinson could be a strong candidate for the GOP in 2010. As the Governor has already mentioned about him, he seemingly knows how to hop on the right issues at the right time, and when he makes mistakes he deals with them in a very serious "aw shucks" manner. That combination, under the right circumstances, can be quite formidable.

    As for the other races and mentioned candidates, if they actually run, it should be an interesting next four years in Oregon politics.

  • frank carper (unverified)

    jason atkinson.... he'd be the logical candidate for governor, but i think the governor is talking about the rumor that jason is going to run against gordon smith.

    after all, the atkinson family despises gordon smith. if the cfg and the immigration crazies are looking for a candidate, atkinson would be the guy.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)
    <h2>I've met Jason Atkinson, he's a charming individual and right enough to challenge Smith. I don't think he's got the gas to win in Oregon statewide against any credible Democrat.</h2>
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