2010: What are you looking for in a gubernatorial candidate?

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Well, as the session winds to a close, the next season in the political calendar gets underway - that part of the cycle when we move from lawmaking to political jockeying, in advance of the actual campaigning.

In 2010, the big suspense will be in the Governor's race. There will be many names proposed, arguments made, loyalties declared.

There will be plenty of time for that.

For now, however, I'd like to have a conversation about the next Governor that doesn't involve any names at all.

I want to ask each of you to consider two broad questions: What are you looking for in a gubernatorial candidate? And, what are you looking for in the next Governor?

Are there particular issues that matter to you? Will you support a candidate that carries the flag for your favored position on some important issue?

Are you looking for someone from the liberal wing - or the moderate middle - of the Democratic Party? Does that kind of ideological labeling even make sense, and is it important?

Will you be looking for evidence of support from particular organizations or interest groups?

How important is a long record and experience, as compared to someone who could be described as a "bright young leader"? (Yeah, the 2008 Obama/Clinton question.) And what sort of experience matters most - elective, business, activist, academic?

Are there particular personal characteristics that matter? Are you looking for boldness and brashness - or caution and prudence?

Are there political considerations that are important? Does "name ID" matter? What about the ability to raise money? Are you hoping for someone from a particular part of the state (or someone who is NOT from a particular part of the state)?

And to circle back to the two broadest questions... What matters more to you: a strong candidate, even if they're not your idea of a perfect Governor? Or will you support the person that you think will make the best Governor, even if they may not have all the political resources you wish they had? Or is that even a reasonable thing to ask?

Talk to me. What matters to you? Describe your perfect choice.

And please, let's try and avoid playing the name-game. There will be plenty of time for that.

  • (Show?)

    I want a LEADER.

    We need someone who is going to set a strong, progressive agenda and then proceed to use all the means at his/her disposal to announce, advocate for and implement it.

  • Mrs. Nash (unverified)

    Pro-choice, anti-sales tax, governor who understands that the purpose of government is to provide education, public safety and everthingelse is secondary.

    The only chance the R's have is if the D candidate is a soft on crime type like Shields and public safety becomes an issue.

  • (Show?)

    A leader. And a leader with a savvy team that can help the next governor demonstrate his or her leadership. That requires an end-run around the mainstream media. It requires engagement with legislators and the public.

    Our current governor has done far more than he gets credit for--and that's a big part of the problem.

    Get out in front; live in front; engage the whole team; win: lead.

  • (Show?)

    The only chance the R's have

    I want a candidate who will prioritize education investment so the students of tomorrow learn the difference between plural and possessive.

  • Mrs. Nash (unverified)


  • Boats (unverified)

    Do we really even need a governor? None of them save for Kitzhaber's health care rationing have done squat but tinker around the edges since the 80s.

    All you get out of Ted is feel good noises and the adoption of the California Air Resources Board's electrical car bias and tinkering with a per mile gas tax, quite possibly the two most stupid projects a governor has undertaken in my lifetime.

    So there will be a laundry list of traits Oregon needs in a "real" leader and then there will be the career barf bags that both parties will throw up who will not measure up to the list in the slightest.

  • (Show?)

    Also: We need a governor who will be a strong administrator and demand better results from the state bureaucracies directly under his or her control. I could start down the list of those agencies with troubled track records and leaders, but any list would ultimately be incomplete. A house-cleaning of several agencies is long overdue.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)

    Someone that was actually born, raised, and schooled in Oregon (both high school and university).

  • Terry Parker (unverified)

    Oregon needs leadership that is representative of the people, for the people and by the people (including the silent majority who choose to drive), instead of just representation of the want-a-be controlling special interest groups and environmental zealots. Socialist mindset cronies that endeavor dictate the lifestyle, housing, transportation and food choices of the people do not belong in Oregon politics. Handing the reins of the state over to social engineering autocrats that simply want to tax and spend throws out the democracy this country was founded on and turns Oregon into a socialist nanny state where public officials become manipulative authoritarian dictators utilizing fear to control life’s day to day activities. Oregon deserves better than what we have now – elected officials that represent freedom of choice for all the people.

  • LT (unverified)

    Here's what I would like to see in a Gov. candidate.

    1) Intelligent debate---the sort of thing we saw from many in the legislature (esp. the workhorses on Ways and Means subcommittees), from the more intelligent Ways and Means co-chairs (without mentioning any names) we have seen in recent years, incl. 2009 both co-chairs. Understanding of a topic (an area of government or generally what the legislature has done) which enables the person to stand in front of an audience and answer any question asked by ordinary citizens. We were denied that kind of intelligent debate in 2006, both primary and general elections, and we should demand it this year. This is why I believe we should have at least 2 strong candidates in the primary.

    2) Last night I saw a wonderful Congressional hearing where the chair and others said things to the witnesses like "You are obviously not answering the question, and I only have a few minutes, so could you please send the information to the committee in writing"---not accepting evasive answers, but not being nasty. We need more of that: strong but civil words which get the point across about what is acceptable and what isn't.

    3) It would be nice to have someone with a history of "laying down the law"--setting rules in a previous job and expecting all to follow them.

    4) Leadership is not about bullying, it is about inspiring people to follow. Leasdership can mean leading a crusade/revolution -- as Obama basically did when he ran for President. A Republican consultant who had some very harsh words to say about the Obama campaign was on a post-election CSPAN panel admiring the way he ran his campaign. "He won because he never listened to those who said he couldn't win." Having a common touch the way Obama does (showing a comfort level with popular culture and conversations with ordinary folks on their level rather than on the candidate's level) is always an asset.

    5) A strong grass roots effort. I recall previous major elections where the candidate's grass roots effort included town hall style meetings and little or no attack ads. Word of mouth advertising (friends talk to friends) is often the most effective, and it costs no money.

    6) Let's hear a vision for the future, a plan to carry it out, and a candidate answering questions about the details and logistics. I don't care if a candidate doesn't like something in an opponent did years ago. If the candidate can't prove having objected at the time, then fuggedaboutit! Solving current problems is what matters.

    7) Wit can have strong barbs and still be admirable. Since he is deceased, I think I can use this name: Tom McCall was SO MUCH better a Gov. than Reagan. After graduating from college in California, I moved to Oregon and was really impressed. McCall was once asked how he and Reagan could be friends, since they disagreed so strongly about politics. McCall: Ronald Reagan is a peach of a neighbor, it is just that nothing he proposes works!".

    Folks, that is a really barbed comment. But it is witty and not juvenile. Wisecracks can be juvenile, but wit is a combination of humor, sarcasm, and an element of truth.

    8) We are living in revolutionary times in any number of ways. Status quo just ain't gonna cut it. Which is why I loved the recent David Brooks column on Iran. He was talking about how linear thinkers in the foreign policy establishment don't know how to react to Iran, but he might as well be talking about political consultants who believe that if they operate according to a template, they will win the election because all good people will be convinced to vote for them.


    ...moments that are non-linear, paradigm-shifting and involve radical shifts in consciousness. As a result, they almost invariably underestimate how rapid change might be and how quickly it might come. As Michael McFaul, a democracy expert who serves on the National Security Council, once wrote: “In retrospect, all revolutions seem inevitable. Beforehand, all revolutions seem impossible.” ................ Recently, many people thought it was clever to say that elections on their own don’t make democracies. But election campaigns stoke the mind and fraudulent elections outrage the soul.


    Think about that revolutions comment. There were a record number of young legislators this session. There have been 6 years of new registered voters since Measure 30.

    What if a candidate for Governor were to be part of/instigator of a movement to modernize Oregon's tax structure incl. the kicker?

    I really startled an old friend who has been following politics for a long time when we were talking about whether there should be a historical component to any tax discussion. I said yes--the 18 year olds who voted in 2008 were born the year Measure 5 passed. He hadn't thought about that.

    The 18 year olds in 2010 will have been born after Measure 5 passed.

    A candidate for Governor who can convey a message about the best of Oregon past and present and what needs to be changed to Keep Oregon, Oregon (McCall's re-election slogan) would seem to me to be the ideal candidate. And if that person can be problem solving oriented and data-driven rather than ideological (I believe labels short circuit thought), that would be even better.

    One final thing: I believe we need a quality standard (such as the previous paragraph or other ideas here) to measure candidates against. Not just "I like _" but "Gee, ___ gave a better answer to that question than -----" or comparing how the candidates state their vision.

    Really intelligent idea, Kari.

  • (Show?)

    -An independent visionary leader with a track record of saying what they mean and doing what they say.

    -Someone with the courage to stand up to the "get tough on crime" crowd that continue to believe its better to build prisons than schools.

    -Someone not driven by party ideology but rather by passion and compassion

  • ex-democrat (unverified)

    someone who will fight for social justice and poverty reduction.

    someone who is not a corporate whore or a member of the rent-seeking elite.

    in other words: someone who is not affiliated with the mainstream democratic party (or a client of kari chisholm).

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    "For now, however, I'd like to have a conversation about the next Governor that doesn't involve any names at all."

    How about what Democratic candidates promise but seldom live up to? Also the opposite of what the Republicans propose.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)

    The anti-Ted. Someone who leads, who is aggressive in ideas and is willing to sell them to the public. Some one who VALUES higher education and the need to fund it so Oregon has any/some change for economic growth outside of its narrowly based economy. Someone who isn't afraid of the anti-tax libertarians and is willing to risk re-election by proposing an overhaul of our antiquated and roller coaster tax system.

  • Connor Allen (unverified)

    Someone from outside of Portland. A strong leader who can really push the state in a certain direction. Someone who can intimidate the opposition.

    There are a couple big names who would fit that.

  • (Show?)

    Bold, young, liberal.

    And at the very least it'd be nice to see some female candidates, if not a female Governor.

  • Cafe Today (unverified)

    A bold, visionary leader who wears blazers and jeans with cowboy boots...

  • David from Eugene (unverified)

    First of all a winner, the rest of the traits he has matter little if he cannot win the General Election.

    Second, his running should not cost the party his current position. There needs to be a strong candidate available and willing to run for the office he is vacating.

    Third, he needs to be an articulate speaker. Much of the Governors power rests in the bully pulpit he commands. If he cannot take advantage of it he has given up much of his effectiveness. It does not matter how good his speech writers are if he cannot deliver the speech. He also needs to appear to be able to speak well off the cuff.

    Fourth, he needs to be a strong effective leader.

    Fifth, he needs to be smart and intelligent and able to do many things at once as well as being a quick learner.

    Lastly he needs as many of the following traits, characteristics and experience as possible:

     He should be Charismatic or at least has some charisma.
     He needs to know and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the Office of the Governor of Oregon.
     Is a good listener. No one knows everything, and if you do not listen, you will not learn.
     He needs a basic understanding of economics, tax policy and budgeting. He needs to be able to read a balance sheet.
     He needs to understand the limits of government.
     While he need not have legislative experience, he does need to know how the legislature functions, both legally and practically.
     He needs to be able to think on his feet. Some opportunities are fleeting, he needs the ability to quickly grasp the good ones and pass on the bad ones.
     Has the ability and self confidence to publicly admit he is wrong, when he is. No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. It is what you do after you realize you have made an error that is important.
     Media Savvy
     Political Savvy,  there is a time re-election is important and times it is not, there are times to go with public opinion and times to not. He needs to understand and be willing to take the politically risky course when it is the best for Oregon.
     He needs to understand that there is more to Oregon than just Portland.
     Sufficient governmental experience to show he can do as well as talk. As well as showing where he really stands on important issues.
     No major, difficult to surmount political, moral or legal skeletons in his closet

    In some cases having the right people in his campaign and latter on his staff can make up for the candidate’s weaknesses and deficiencies. Provided they are not yes men and the candidate trusts and listens to their advice before acting.

    I have intentionally left out any discussion of political beliefs, core values not because they are not important for they are. But rather because we that make up the center-left of the political spectrum need to have a discussion of where we think Oregon Government should go. We need to discuss what is important to us and establish a consensus of what our party stands for. This is a never ending process that best done separately. And any candidate needs to support the major main stream elements of the party’s current core values and political positions before he is even considered.

  • washcodem (unverified)

    I would like a brave, intelligent, visionary WOMAN.

  • Mrs. Nash (unverified)

    A woman or man who knows how to present themselves in a manner that does not look foolish- like bow ties for example.

  • (Show?)

    I want a governor that shares the general values of the Democratic Party: for social justice and equity, for choice, for education (but with substantial change), for universal health care, for the environment and against climate change, and for other mainline Democratic values.

    But, above all, I want a 21st century governor who understands the 21st century global economy and will seek to have Oregon engage that global economy not withdraw from it. A governor for economic growth who understands: (1) that Oregon’s economic future, if it is to thrive, will depend upon our future abilities to sell our goods and services to peoples around the globe; (2) that increasing our capacities to sell abroad will require changes in how we think about the world and about ourselves; and (3) that Oregon’s educational system will need substantial changes to produce students fluent in foreign languages and knowledgeable of foreign cultures and markets.

    I want a Governor who understands that global climate change is real, that politics as usual on the issue won’t begin to meet the challenge, and that bolder proposals are needed.

    And I’d prefer someone new to retreads or those currently in high offices. None of those have shown, IMHO, that they understand the 21st century global economy (or seem to recognize that Oregon is part of it).

  • (Show?)

    A bold, visionary leader who wears blazers and jeans with cowboy boots...

    A woman or man who knows how to present themselves in a manner that does not look foolish- like bow ties for example.

    You guys are more "letter of the law" types than "spirit of the law" aren't you?

  • (Show?)

    Thank you Mrs. Nash - rofl. : )

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    Yes, issues are important, but we should actually consider what kind of leaders we are choosing in terms of their personality, skills, character, past performance, etc...

    Let's look at a few of the past Governors. Tom McCall is often considered our greatest modern governor. Why? He had it all: brains, passion, drive, ability to communicate, and, perhaps above all, he seemed to be a real politician who enjoyed talking to others and thrived off of the give and take of political debate. I‘ve heard both Ed Lindquist and Ralph Groener, both freshman state reps in ’73, recall how wonderful McCall was to work with and how he seemed to value them. I've talked to two current Democratic state reps who say that they never hear from our Governor.

    Lobbying and working effectively with the legislature, lobbyists, agency heads, media and other key players is obviously a must for an effective Governor, and McCall set the bar high.

    Neil Goldschmidt was probably quite similar to McCall, although probably less interested in listening to anyone not named Neil Goldschmidt. Still, I think he could at least act like he cared about the views of others and he provided dynamic articulate leadership as Portland Mayor, and to a degree as governor.

    Mark Hatfield had a degree of charisma and charm that made him a popular govenror. In his McCall bio., Brent Walth described Hatfield as at times cool, aloof, and even imperious, but Hatfield apparently had enough political skills and stature to win the confidence of the voters and to serve as an effective Governor and Senator.

    McCall, Hatfield, and to a lesser extent, Goldschmidt, were also moderates who could work well with both parties. I think it’s fair to say that they knew how to pick talent and oversaw strong and effective staffs.

    Governing Oregon seemed to become much more challenging in 1990 as Goldschmidt left. The timber wars divided urban and rural Oregon. Social issues like abortion and gay rights became more divisive, especially within the Republican Party. Ballot Measure 5 and other tax cutting measures created more of a roadblock for the legislature and governor. I think the parties became more polarized and party discipline and party activist pressure increased during the 80's.

    I think that John Kitzhaber was (we're not mentioning current candidiates here, so I'll say was) a potentially great Governor who could only block the Republican legislature but could get few of his, and our, goals passed them.

    Surely the mad fundraising game hasn't helped matters. Vic Atiyeh raised $1 1/2 million in his 1982 re-election campaign, then a clear record ($3.3 million in current dollars). Four years later, corporate Democrat Goldschmidt with his Nike and other business connections raised something like $4 million ($8 million in '09 $). That figure subsided some in the 90's , but Saxton brought it back with a vengeance this decade, raising $10 million in '06.

    Legislative fundraising has also soared. In one of the most competitive house races in '82, Democrat Jim Hill spent about $30,000 to win his Salem district (or $66,000 currently), which was typical then of a competitive house race. In 2006, Democrat Brian Clem spent over $400,000 to win his Salem seat, and many leg. candidates in OR weren't far behind. ( Minnis spent more, WAY more).

    As they say, "you dance with the one who brung ya," and the need to this kind of money could have challenged even Wayne Morse's independence and courage. How many big votes in recent sessions haven’t been partly line, or close to it? The few Ds who voted against the Metolius bill and the two Rs who voted for the corporate tax were figuratively mutilated by many in their parties for their votes. Look what happened to Tony Corcoran and Greg MacPherson for voting for PERS reductions in ‘03.

    [Off-topic discussion about campaign finance reform removed. -editor]

    In any event, as always , the main requirement for a successful candidate will likely be, to pile on all the endorsements he/she can, especially from groups that can write big checks to fund ads that don;t seem to become any more positive from Election year to Election year..

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    "First of all a winner, the rest of the traits he has matter little if he cannot win the General Election."

    Yeah, right! How about these guys for winners? Bush, poppy and brat, Clinton, Reagan, Nixon, Ford. We don't need winners who are morally and/or ethically bankrupt.

  • LT (unverified)

    "Mark Hatfield had a degree of charisma and charm that made him a popular govenror."

    One time I was talking to someone who had been a long time volunteer for Democrats, going back to the year Hatfield was first elected Gov. One woman in his pct. had not voted and he called her and said he would provide her a ride if she wanted to vote. It was a dark and rainy night, but he got her to the polling place maybe 10 minutes before the polls closed. When she got back in the car, he asked a non-committal question like "was it worth coming out on a stormy night?". She said "Yes, and I voted an almost straight Democratic ticket, but I couldn't resist voting for that nice Mr. Hatfield!".

    We now have vote by mail in Oregon, and times are much changed all over the country. But I get the sense some people did that same thing last year, voting for "that nice Mr. Obama", regardless of their other political leanings.

    We could do a lot worse than having that sort of result, regardless of who the nominee is.

  • MarciaFS (unverified)

    An articulate, unapologetic champion of progressive taxation/revenue growth and opposition to the death penalty.

  • (Show?)

    Someone who will convene an Economic Crisis Summit of regional, county and local leaders from around the state, from all bodies that have autonomous budget-making decisions that are constrained by balanced budget requirements, and work on a strategy to work together to secure a People's Bailout from the Federal government to stop the draconian cuts being forced upon us by all of those "leaders" operating in their own little silos and saying "we have to cut."

  • chg (unverified)

    A leader who has ethics (and walks the walk, not just lip service), who can't be bought or sold by people on either side of the fence (this eliminates most electeds on either side), has the ability to bring rural and urban people together with a track record of fixing what has been broken and has the balls to make genuinely tough decisions and not be cowed by special interests, unions and the freak side show that resides on the extremes of either party.

    I can think of 3, maybe 4, people who fit this description and 2 will not be interested in leaving their current positions.

  • chg (unverified)

    One more: A basic understanding of economics and what it takes to bring living-wage jobs to the state. Half of our state's problems exist because we've had leaders who don't understand basic finance and think the public trough is a pot of gold. Oregon tax revenue doesn't grow on trees anymore and not only does the public need to be told that roads & services aren't free but leaders need to understand there's only so much $ to go around and it needs to be spent wisely with thought to the future.

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