Kitzhaber supporters work to downplay Gore visit for Bradbury

Charlie Burr

[Author's note: Les AuCoin wrote that in the comment section that he has not in fact endorsed Kitzhaber. So, egg, meet face. I apologize. However, the piece did read to me like it was designed to downplay Bradbury's role in earning the endorsement.]

Wow. The Bradbury campaign must be pretty happy to see Kitzhaber supporters working overtime to take the luster off next week's Gore visit. It really underscores that it's in fact quite a coup for Bill.

Les AuCoin is a talented politician and Kitzhaber partisan, and I appreciate that he's preemptively trying to downplay pushback to his post. Here's how Les put it:

As I write these words, I can already hear howls of protests about them from my friend Bill’s gubernatorial supporters.

Let me see if I can take a crack at it since I like both candidates and have endorsed neither. Les is wrong about Kitzhaber's 2000 primary endorsement of the lagging candidacy of Bill Bradley:

Kitz back bill Bradley early and conspicously....

No. Kitzhaber backed Bradley right before the Washington primary in late February when it was all but certain Bradley would drop out. It struck me as a pretty petty and politically boneheaded move then and still does today. In point of fact, Bradley dropped out of the race a week after his predictable Washington state loss. Fun fact: John Kitzhaber was the only governor in the country to get behind Bradley.

So, there was nothing "early" about it and the only thing "conspicous" about the decision was that it made virtually no sense whatsoever. Unless, you ascribe Les' motivations. That strikes me as a weird pitch for a Kitzhaber supporter to make: Kitzhaber endorsed a candidate for the highest office in the land because of bad blood. Not very compelling to me as an undecided voter.

Back to the main point here: Bill Bradbury's environmental credentials speak for themselves. Bradbury was one of only 100 or so activists who traveled to the Gore farm in Carthage to get activist training with Gore himself.  It's fairly surprising to me to see Les attempt to spin away the bond between Bradbury and Gore after years of work together against climate change.

Les may be right that Kitzhaber was primarily motivated by political payback when he came out swinging for Gore's rival. Fair enough. But folks can come to the Gore event on the 19th and judge for themselves how genuine his appreciation is for Bradbury's environmental work.

The bottom line is that it's a pretty big deal Gore has weighed in here, and Les' attempt to "get Kitz' back" -- his words, not mine -- only reinforces that reality.

See you on the 19th, popcorn in hand.

  • (Show?) you smell that? Smells just like Merkley v. Novick. I really hope this doesn't get ugly or I will abstain from the primaries. I want to see a candidate step up and talk about fixing this state, not attack each other over endorsements and fundraisers. This state and the Democratic party deserve that much at least.

  • Stefan (unverified)

    Just what I was about to say, leinad. Better take cover now unless you want bits of pie filling on ya.

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    I highly doubt this primary will be anything like the 08 Senate primary. We've all got our own spin and folks to spin the spin and someone else to put that spin in the washer and let the spin cycle do the rest.

    We've all got our little issues that we'll say is the most important thing the candidate has to do to win our vote. I think the discussion happening in the last two posts are good. We get to hear two different perspectives and if there are more those folks should also submit a guest opinion or post it in the discussion. We've all got different itches and hopefully you'll find a candidate that scratches it for you.

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    Mr. Burr, please see my reply to your comment on my post. I regret that a bit of historical context seems to have made you overwrought.

    It also seems to have made you an amateur mind-reader: you say I'm a "Kitzhaber partisan" but I have not endorsed a candidate.

    I may.

    But I have not.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    The dems should be careful to factor in the NAV. Since we can't vote in the primary, but are a sizable voting presence they would be well advised to learn a lesson from NJ and speak to us as well.

  • Charlie Burr (unverified)

    I really hope this doesn't get ugly or I will abstain from the primaries.

    Well, I totally agree about the first part. I am genuinely undecided and want to see a primary that makes our eventual nominee stronger. That said, this is a big win for the Bradbury campaign, and Kitzhaber supporters are overreacting to it.

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    Kurt, I direct you to Jeff Alworth's post from yesterday. All the NAV's don't just chill out in the middle between the Rs and the Ds. They are all over the spectrum, they just choose not to affiliate. So, while yes, NAVs are wild cards they don't ALL break to one side. Also, Oregon ain't VA or NJ.

  • Charlie Burr (unverified)

    Les, I thought you'd already endorsed Kitzhaber, so I apologize. I'll make a note on my post. Your initial piece very much seemed designed to downplay Bradbury's role in earning this endorsement.

    I still stand by the fact that your recollection of the 2000 primary is off. Kitzhaber endorsed Bradley when Bradley was an all but a dead man walking, so it was my hope to add some context and accuracy myself. That's what happened. You can check out the 2000 primary calendar here.

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    re: 2000. our primary was in May, right? late May? so an endorsement of a candidate in Oregon, for Oregon voters, in February could be seen as early. not Kitz' fault Bradley was unable to challenge Gore effectively. not sure how much good an earlier Kitz endorsement would have done Bradley in Iowa, NH or even WA. perhaps Bradley's team thought it might help just enough to keep Bill in the race; whether that's true or not, an endorsement of any candidate by anyone in Oregon is probably a pointless effort, given how late our primary is. i really doubt Gore is coming here to punish John Kitzhaber; this is about him helping Bill Bradbury. which is totally cool. i'm all for it; won't stop Kitz from getting the nomination.

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    The silly season ala' Charlie and Les. We are fortunate to have three candidates for Governor on the Democratic side. It is a year out before we mail in our ballots. All three campaigns are getting their campaign sealegs and setting sail in January. Surely we can take a step back from ingrained predictable jumps on band wagons. My emphasis is on positions related to public education, health/safety and jobs, jobs and jobs.

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    So far as I can tell, the only person who has overreacted here is you, Charlie. One background post by a person who hasn't even taken a position on the race = Kitzhaber supporters are "working overtime" to ruin BB's event?


    I mean, if Doctor No and his supporters are actually "working overtime", can you point me to anything else that you are basing this on?

  • LT (unverified)

    " you smell that? Smells just like Merkley v. Novick."

    My sentiments exactly.

    OK, all you folks who have chosen a candidate, try to get your chosen candidate to answer questions like this:

    Where do you stand on campaign finance reform--have you read the

    "use of campaign funds" proposal? How about anything else in the Pub. Comm. on the Legislature report?

    For all the debate on funding education, do you believe it is important to begin anti-dropout programs in middle schools?

    Now that the Mayor-elect of Vancouver is someone opposed to tolls, should there be a new bridge across the Columbia? If so, how should it be paid for?

    How will you aim to win the votes of over 500,000 Measure 65 Yes voters who are tired of the partisanship and voted for nonpartisan elections?

    If we can't get answers to such intelligent questions, it won't matter if there was a feud between the 2 former St. Senate presidents who also held statewide office or if they are old friends going back decades.

    These topics about Gore's visit have the smell of "the train is leaving the station and everyone must choose either "Stand Strong with Steve" or "Have a Tap with Tester" because all good Democrats choose sides early before the campaign has even gotten off the ground".

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    While I appreciate the back ground on the Oregon Health Plan disagreement between Gore and Kitzhaber, I have to give Gore the benefit of the doubt and believe that he is endorsing Bradbury because he believes he's the better candidate.

    I think both Charlie and Mr. AuCoin are blowing the whole thing out of proportion. Maybe we need to get them some boxing gloves.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    leonid, I have read that section. My point id exactly that the NAV's make up a sizeable voting block and can not be ignored. look to LT's excellent post here for specifics that nust be addressed.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    Clear those NAVs (gawdawful acronym) must be assuaged in the usual Democratic way, namely this: Democratic candidates will recast themselves as "Democrats" and tout their willingness to exert their "independence" (meaning their willingness to deep-six actual progressive policy initiatives and behave as de facto Republicans). In this way "Democrats" believe they will stave off electoral challenges from actual existing Republicans. The fact that this turn of events never comes to pass--they are ALWAYS challenged by Republicans--has no effect on the way "Democrats" will behave the next time they are presented with the opportunity to sell out progressivism.

    By way of comparison, note that Republican candidates NEVER recast themselves as "Republicans" and tout their willingness to collaborate with Democrats.

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    Kitzhaber endorsed Bradley January 19, 2000. In addition to Washington (according to your election calendar) that was also in advance of the New Hampshire and Delaware primaries.

    What were you saying again?

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    Sorry, I forgot to mention Iowa.

    Another way of making my point: the Kitzhaber endorsement preceded every single Democratic caucus and primary in 2000.

    In other words: every bit of analysis in this post is off.

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    Pete, Charlie -

    What we have here are two contradictory claims - neither of which has a source.

    Anybody care to share a confirmable source?

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    Kari, thanks for asking. While you're right that neither Charlie nor I provide a source, there are a couple significant differences between how Charlie and I have approached this:

    • I did not accuse a nine-term Congressman of a cheap political stunt, or of getting his facts wrong.
    • While neither of us posted our sources, I did check my sources before posting.

    Anyway, here's the main source:

    Jeff Mapes: Bradley receives his first governor's endorsement from Oregon. The Oregonian, January 19, 2000.

    One other point: in contrast to Charlie's statement that Gore's Washington victory was "predictable," Mapes wrote as late as February 20 indicating that there were some strengths to Bradley's Washington campaign. He considered him an underdog, but did not write as though the race was a done deal. I believe this belies Burr's sole remaining point, which was that the only "conspicuous" thing about Kitzhaber's endorsement was that it made no sense. (I'll leave it to the readers to track that column down, as it's a relatively minor point.)

    I should note that I've worked for Congressman AuCoin on a small project. However, my opinions and actions here are entirely my own; I found this blog thread only today, in my own Internet wanderings; also my research, which cost me a library card, an Internet connection, and all of two minutes, was done at my own initiative. (I've also benefitted from Charlie Burr's insights in the past, and would consider him a friend and ally.)

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