Kitzhaber, Dudley to square off for governor

PORTLAND — An Oregon politician trying to set a record for terms as governor and a former NBA player making his first run for office will go one-on-one in the fall election.

Democrat John Kitzhaber and Republican Chris Dudley won their respective primaries Tuesday, Kitzhaber handily and Dudley by a smaller margin.

That sets up a contest between Kitzhaber, who won two terms as governor in the 1990s, and Dudley, who has never held office and said he will campaign as "the outsider."

Oregon allows governors three or more terms but requires a hiatus after the first two. No one has ever won three.

Kitzhaber easily beat his primary opponent, former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury. With 73 of the expected vote counted, Kitzhaber had 66 percent and Bradbury 29 percent. A third candidate, Roger Obrist, had 5 percent.

On the Republican side, Dudley had 40 percent of the vote, while his closest competitor, Allen Alley, had 32 percent.

Former legislator John Lim, who appealed to social conservatives, had 14 percent, and Bill Sizemore, once an activist for conservative ballot measures but now fighting tax evasion charges and other legal difficulties, had 8 percent.

Kitzhaber and Dudley are expected to run centrist campaigns that focus on jobs and the state budget.

Dudley's top priority is to cut business taxes and hold down state spending. Kitzhaber wants to undertake long-range reform of state government. He scheduled a press conference Wednesday to outline his proposals for efficiency projects to create jobs.

Dudley has been a financial consultant for executives and the wealthy since retiring from the NBA in 2003 after 16 years, including six years with the Portland Trail Blazers. He emerged as a candidate last year.

Alley, a high-tech executive until he got into government and politics about four years ago, has made one statewide run, losing the contest for state treasurer in 2008.

With Democrat Ted Kulongoski leaving office after two terms and the state facing 11 percent unemployment and a large projected hole in the state budget, Oregon Republicans have looked at the governor's race as a possible way to begin turning around their fortunes.

They have been shut out of the governor's office for more than two decades, and their hold on state government has withered. They don't have anybody in statewide office, they trail the Democrats by 3-2 in both houses of the Legislature, they have only Rep. Greg Walden in the congressional delegation, and their voter registration numbers have lagged those of the Democrats.

Alley and Dudley ran on similar platforms, promising to cut business taxes, restrain state spending and preserve the "kicker" rebates to taxpayers when tax collections are well above estimates. They said they'd do more to develop natural resources. Both support abortion rights. Alley had hoped to pick up more conservative votes late in the campaign, but saw many of those go to Lim and Sizemore.

Bradley's campaign rested on proposals to create a state-owned bank and to eliminate millions of dollars in tax credits to finance a sharp increase in spending on education.

Kitzhaber has called for drastic "systems changes" in the way the state government does business, such as budgeting as much as 10 years out and putting all education activities in one agency.

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