GOP still searching for governor candidate

SALEM — With former NBA player Chris Dudley likely announcing next week that he's a Republican candidate for Oregon governor, some members of the party were still casting about for a candidate Friday.

Dudley, who played center for the Portland Trail Blazers, plans to make a "major announcement" next week about his political plans, his exploratory campaign organization said.

It's a safe bet Dudley is running, given that his organization already has raised $340,000 — more than any candidate — and has issued three campaign videos aimed at introducing Dudley to voters.

"We've gotten good response. People are excited about a possible Chris Dudley candidacy," said Brittany Bramell, spokeswoman for Dudley's group.

Meanwhile, Oregon House Republican Leader Bruce Hanna of Roseburg has been hearing from business leaders and party activists, and he's considering running, a spokesman said.

Three other candidates — Allen Alley, John Lim and Bill Sizemore — already are in the race.

Some in the party are still searching for a candidate who they think can overcome Democratic advantages in 2010, political observer Jim Moore said.

"There are no strong declared Republican candidates at this point," he said.

Democrats hold a lopsided voter registration edge in Oregon. The favorite in the Democratic primary is John Kitzhaber, the popular former governor vying with former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury.

Hanna wasn't available Friday. His spokesman, Nick Smith, confirmed that the Roseburg lawmaker has been contacted by business officials and GOP activists urging him to run.

"People want to have that conversation with him, and he is willing to listen to them," Smith said. "Right now he is committed to being the House Republican leader and winning House seats in 2010."

Hanna will decide soon whether to run, Smith said.

Oregon Republican Chairman Bob Tiernan said he doesn't read much into the courting of Hanna.

"People who know Bruce think he is great, and they are encouraging him to run," Tiernan said. "It's not a slam on Dudley or any of the others. Republicans will rally around whoever wins the primary."

Moore said he thinks some Republicans are courting Hanna because he has government and electoral experience as well as a business background as the owner of soda pop bottling plant.

"Chris Dudley is interesting, but he has not done anything to stir up the Republican activists to get behind him," said Moore, who teaches political science at Pacific University in Forest Grove.

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