OR-GOV: Bill Bradbury and his Segway

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Politics can be tough on your body. The days are long, with many hours often spent on your feet, talking to the public. Which makes running for Governor all that much more difficult if you've got multiple sclerosis.

Over the last year, many people have wondered aloud - here on BlueOregon, and in hushed tones in person - whether Bill Bradbury's health will be an insurmountable obstacle to his gubernatorial ambitions. In response, I've always said, "His health problems are hips down, not neck up. He's perfectly capable of being Governor."

I'm working with his opponent's campaign, but I still think that's true. And after seeing him negotiate the Oregon Summit two weekends ago, more Oregon Democrats feel the same way, I'm sure.


The Associated Press had a great story this week about how Bradbury is handling the rigors of the campaign. One highlight? How he's getting around: On a Segway personal transporter. And I'll admit it: I'm jealous. The Segway is a pretty sweet ride.

(If you're ever in Jacksonville, Oregon, be sure to drop by the local Segway dealership and rent one for an hour. Just don't crash and flip it, as I did, while negotiating a 90-degree turn while going from uphill to downhill, at high speed, on a dirt path, in a cemetery.)

To his credit, Bradbury has always been public about his M.S. - through a quarter-century of public service:

He went public in 1983 at a Labor Day picnic on Oregon's south coast.

Organizers asked Bradbury, then a state legislator, to make a few remarks, and he appeared wobbly as he walked to the stage. He then took the microphone and told people about his disease.

"I decided it probably would be better for people to know I had a disability rather than thinking I was drunk," he says.

Since then, MS has not been an issue in his campaigns. He says questions about his health are valid, but he insists the disease won't affect his ability to govern. ...

"I work pretty hard to manage the disease, with a low-saturated-fat diet and acupuncture," he says. His doctors say that combination works as well for him as a drug regimen, he says.

And that's not just bravado. One local medical expert agrees:

Dr. Dennis Bourdette, chairman of the Department of Neurology at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, says Bradbury appears to be up to the tasks of running and serving.

"There's no reason why somebody with MS can't hold high office," he says. "Just because somebody has problems walking doesn't mean their brain is not working properly."

Bourdette says MS affects patients in differing ways. That Bradbury has been in public office for years and been a vigorous campaigner is a good sign he can withstand the rigors ahead, he says.

"The best predictor of how somebody's going to do with their MS in a given job is their history, how they've done in the past," Bourdette says.

As I said, I'm supporting someone else. But I'm hoping that this Associated Press story puts to rest any concerns folks have. We should be electing Oregon's next governor based on their vision for our state, and their leadership ability that will get us there.

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    [Full disclosure: My firm built John Kitzhaber's website. In 2004, my firm built Bill Bradbury's campaign website. I speak only for myself.]

  • LT (unverified)

    I am with you there:

    "We should be electing Oregon's next governor based on their vision for our state, and their leadership ability that will get us there."

    "Vision for the future and a plan to carry it out" was the way a friend deflected people nagging him to endorse candidates in a previous primary. He said, "show me the vision for the future and a plan to carry it out, then I will think about it" and said many people left him alone after he said that.

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    Bill also set up his Prius with an electric Segway delivery motor so that Bill can get it out of his car by himself. It is not easy as the Segway is pretty heavy, but it is an impressive setup.

  • dartagnan (unverified)

    Of course Bradbury's disability doesn't mean he can't be a capable governor. FDR couldn't even walk and he was one of the greatest and most effective presidents this country ever had.

    But I bet he would've loved to own a Segway.

  • Ricky (unverified)

    I worry less about Bradbury's health than the fact that Portland politics are increasingly driven by gay activists who never ran a business, or know how to create jobs. I am even more increasingly disillusioned by tye-dye shirt wearing old men with pony tails who allow these women to dictate the agenda. I was shocked to discover how Portland blue politics are mostly run by gay people with an agenda. I was even more shocked to discover that it is almost all gay women and transfigured males (plus a few lawyers) that Bradbury has to waste his time sucking up to.

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    Way to cram as many wrong stereotypes into one message, Ricky.

    And what, is this 2004 again? Gay agenda? I guess equality is an agenda...

  • DSS (unverified)

    Anyone else think that Ricky doth protest too much? :)

    Also, I love how when you don't specify what an "agenda" is it sounds scary: "Oh my goodness! The Gays have an AGENDA... (Cue spooky music) ... for equal rights and other nefarious things! Aaagh!"

    But back on topic...

    I was very impressed with the degree to which Bradbury got around during the Sunriver Summit -- which was impressive for anyone, let alone someone with MS. Seriously, everywhere I went, there was Bradbury, workin' it! He certainly has the chops to compete.

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    Portland politics are increasingly driven by gay activists who never ran a business, or know how to create jobs.

    When I first met KC (Current PDX chair), she was a small business owner. Maybe she still is. So epic fail on that particular slander........

    I am even more increasingly disillusioned by tye-dye shirt wearing old men with pony tails who allow these women to dictate the agenda

    Here I notice that the Evil Doers fall into two distinct classes, neither one of which is gay men, despite the verbiage.

    Does our boy hate/fear lesbians in particular or women in general? We're pretty clear that he don't think much of the pony tailed guys who "allow" this kind of behavior.

    I guess I fall into the latter class despite lacking the requisite ponytail, but nobody's perfect.

  • fbear (unverified)

    Ricky, you didn't get the memo: The G.O.P. is now against the Gaia Agenda, not the Gay Agenda. Please try to keep up.

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    I got to admit it would be pretty cool to see a massive flock of segways at the capitol if he's elected governor. Need to get to a committee room in a hurry? Hop on the Segway!

  • tl (in sw) (unverified)

    The Gays have an AGENDA... (Cue spooky music) ...

    Mark Fiore was all over this 5 years ago.

  • pdx_dem (unverified)

    At the DPO Summit two things happened when Bradbury & Kitzhaber spoke.

    1. Bradbury promised the sky and promised to fund it all which in the end sounded like normal campaign talk.

    2. Kitzhaber promised nothing and talked about the reality we faced. He asked for ideas and it came off like his personality usually does.

    In the end, I liked Kitzhaber's honesty and substance. I liked Bradbury's enthusiasm but but felt uneasy about his qualifications.

    Too bad we can't make them create a child with their DNA, raise it to a median age in 3 weeks, and run that person for governor.

  • Ms Mel Harmon (unverified)


    No offense intended to either Bradbury or Kitzhaber, but if we're mixing DNA to create a governor, I want Novick's in the mix as well.

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)

    No Gay Agenda here, Ricky!

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    What if you put Kitzhaber on a Segway?

    I mean the way things are trending in Salem, you need to be a male at least seven feet tall to be a serious contender these days.

  • pdx_dem (unverified)


    No offense taken. To be honest, I like Novick just the way he is. No need to water his DNA down at all.

  • LT (unverified)

    To bring things back to a serious level:

    This afternoon, after I attended the Marion Demoforum luncheon where AG Kroger spoke, I happened to run into an old friend. We first met on a primary campaign decades ago.

    I mentioned what Kroger had said, esp. on the topics of drug abuse treatment and prevention. I said I would go on a blog about the Gov. campaign and ask this question:

    Candidate: What do you know about AG Kroger's views on drug abuse prevention and treatment?

    My friend said, "Don't give them too much information--find out what they know!".

    So I said, no, not too much information. Just ask what they know? can they discuss Kroger's views intelligently? *can they describe where they agree/disagree with Kroger and why?

    This is a nice human interest story. But my guess is that more people will vote based on what serious ideas they hear debated by candidates than by how Bill travels or John's love of fly fishing.

  • Mike M (unverified)


    A good point.

    I heard Kroger speak at the Portland City Club back in June (audio available here)

    He whole heartedly supported House Bill 3353, the last bill to be approved by the Oregon House.

    "It sets up a commission to overhaul the state's drug treatment and prevention system. The commission brings together state leaders, law enforcement and treatment providers in an unprecedented effort to reduce crime by dramatically improving Oregon's drug treatment and prevention programs."

    The audio clip at the link expands on his support for this.

    His main point is that enforcement alone is not sufficient. It is essential that treatment and prevention have emphasis with real action. I agree.

    So it's a start. Any of the candidates can read the material available about Kroger's position, or listen in on what he said at the City Club or at other venues. Then the candidates can answer your question.

    Whether a candidate fishes or rides a Segway is interesting, but is not very helpful in selecting a Governor.

  • nulwee (unverified)

    The comment above is so obnoxiously bigoted it shouldn't even be debated.

    Bradbury is a progressive. I think he's more progressive than Kitzhaber. I think he's more responsive and less-beholden to the moneyed class than Kitzhaber (who I think might be--a lot).

    Or should we continue to yammer away about chronic disease and stereotyping minorities?

  • Darrell Fuller (unverified)

    Kari: "in a cemetery"???

  • anon (unverified)

    Considering his disease I'm surprised he was able to clearcut all that timber. Must've strapped a chainsaw onto his segway.

  • Anthony (unverified)

    I have a hard time taking anybody seriously who rides a Segway.

  • Curious (unverified)

    Considering his disease I'm surprised he was able to clearcut all that timber.

    Finally: a snarky enviro-nut. How refreshing. I'd say to go cry a river, but lord knows how the topsoil would hold up without a stabilizing root structure. (Am I right people?)

    If you think Bradbury cut TOO MUCH timber... you're either not paying attention or you must be one of those people who think one mmbf is one too many.

    I'm curious. What, in your mind, would be an appropriate annual cut from trust lands?

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    Reminds me of Jesse Jackson's great line during his 84/88 campaigns when he spoke out on disability issues; "I would rather have Roosevelt in a wheelchair than Reagan on a horse."

  • porno video (unverified)

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