In recent months there's been a good deal of talk that Betsy Johnson might bolt from her Democratic Party, under which she's been an Oregon senator in her third term, and run for governor as a member of the fast-growing Independent Party of Oregon. She hasn't discouraged that talk, and has traveled around the state in recent months, apparently in exploration of the idea. Thursday was the deadline for her, if she wanted to switch parties in time to file for governor, but she declined to do it. She acknowledged she seriously considered it, didn't say much about why she ultimately didn't. It could be in part that she doesn't sign on with all of the IPO's goals either. It could be that the prospect of taking on Governor Kate Brown, who at this point seems secure in 2016, was daunting. Or something else. But the governor's race just got a little less interesting. - rs
Posts tagged as “Oregon governor”
The idea of John Kitzhaber once again seeking the job he once seemed to argue was undoable - governing Oregon - just simply hasn't seemed like a starter. He could have run for the U.S. Senate in 2002 or 2008, but passed; considered a run for governor in 2006 but passed. Why should the idea of a run in 2010 be taken seriously now?
A new piece by the Oregonian's Jeff Mapes suggests the outline of a case for taking it seriously. It says (on occasion of the unveiling of his picture at the Statehouse) that he's thinking about running. Fine; he was thinking about running all those other times, too. But there are a few new factors.
He would likely have a Democratic legislature to work with, rather than the Republican one he fought with the whole time he was governor. He has been pushing his ideas on medical reform, but visibility has been intermittent, and as governor he could go much further to make things happen. His personal circumstances have changed.
What hasn't, probably, is how formidable he would be if he does run. There's no overwhelming favorite in the field right now, and Kitzhaber (whose polling numbers remain excellent and campaign skills remain sterling) would enter as the formidable frontrunner and likely next governor.
But be wary of placing any bets just yet.
We've suspected for a while that the top-tier Republican possibilities for governor, former Senator Gordon Smith and current Representative Greg Walden, wouldn't go for it.
From an Oregonian story on the Republican Dorchester Conference, held this weekend at Seaside, come growing indications that seems about right.
About Smith, close associate Dan Lavey is quoted, "He's focused on the future, but the future has more to do with pea picking and the law firm than it does with politics." That sounds pretty clear.
And the story says, "Walden says the seniority he's built up in Congress and the lopsided voter registration edge Democrats hold over Republicans give him pause as he looks at a run for governor. He says he won't decide right away." You don't have to parse that too hard to get the drift.
No real specific indications from the Dorchester - this said from a distance, but with such information as is available - of active efforts as yet underway for GOP candidates for governor. Our best guess, for the moment, remains state Senator Jason Atkinson, R-Central Point. But the field is looking fairly open.
It wasn't hard when he ran last year for state treasurer; he was the only Republican who filed for the job. In the general, he did respectably (45.2% to Democrat Ben Westlund's 51.1%), but one reason was that his campaign ramped up unexpectedly at the end, taking the Democrats by somewhat by surprise. Nothing wrong with that strategy, but it likely wouldn't do as well in a higher profile governor's race. Alley did, as well, come across as an energetic candidate.
The primary issue comes up because Alley doesn't seem to have a large, easily definable constituency within the Republican voting base, or a really strong organization. It's hard to imagine him staying in the race should former Senator Gordon Smith or Representative Greg Walden enter (as we're guessing they won't, but which they could). The best guess here for a Republican gubernatorial nominee next year - assuming he runs - would be state Senator Jason Atkinson, who has a strong and enthusiastic support base, and has developed very strong campaign skills; he may have been the best natural campaigner for the governorship in 2006 in Oregon.
But who knows, yet, who will or won't enter - on either side? Alley's entry is demonstration of just that unpredictability.