Bill Bradbury distances himself from John Kitzhaber to run for Oregon governor


When he last attempted the improbable -- a futile 2002 effort to unseat Republican Sen. Gordon Smith -- Bill Bradbury knew he could count on the support of one of Oregon's top Democrats.

After all, he and former Gov. John Kitzhaber had run rivers together, camped together, discussed their shared love for Oregon's outback late into the night. Kitzhaber was the one who first schooled Bradbury back in the day, not only about how to master Class 4 rapids but also about the state's political eddies and crosscurrents.

A decade later, Bradbury finds himself in the thorny position of putting as much distance as possible between himself and his longtime friend. It's his only hope of overcoming Kitzhaber's gaping advantages in campaign money and in the polls as the two vie for their party's nomination for governor.

"It's not easy," Bradbury admits. "I don't want to be in the mode of personal attacks."

Instead, the former secretary of state and longtime legislator has worked to cast himself as the only purebred Democrat in the May 18 primary.

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