Bradbury entering Ore. governor race

PORTLAND — Former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury is entering the race to be the state’s next governor.

Bradbury, who served in the Legislature for 14 years, is going to make a formal announcement Thursday, according to his spokesman Jeremy Wright.

Following the announcement, Bradbury has scheduled campaign events in Salem, Eugene, Medford, Ashland and Bend, Wright said.

“It’s safe to say he wouldn’t be going to six cities if he wasn’t formally announcing his candidacy,” Wright said Wednesday. “Bill Bradbury is going to run a grassroots campaign, reaching out to every voter across the state.”

The former Senate president has a tough race ahead of him. Former Gov. John Kitzhaber announced earlier this month that he would be seeking a third term after an eight-year hiatus.

It’s also possible that Rep. Peter DeFazio will announce his own campaign, though there is wide speculation that he’ll sit the race out and concentrate on re-election to his House seat instead.

Wright said the decision to run came independent of Kitzhaber’s and that the two are “old friends.”

“The reality is that Bill Bradbury has been meeting with people and traveling across the state for the past year. His decision to run is independent of anyone else,” Wright said.

For his part, Bradbury would say only that he’s “very, very, very, very seriously considering the race for governor.” Still, during a phone interview Wednesday he laid out what he saw the top three issues the next governor must tackle: jobs, education and sustainability.

The poor economy, he said, means job creation is critical. He sees opportunities in green building, green energy, sustainable agriculture and value-added forestry.

On education, he said it was clear Oregon’s system hasn’t worked for decades. “We do OK on K-12 when the economy is good, but we really collapse when the economy collapses.” That picture’s worse for community colleges and the university system, he said.

“We’ve got to figure out how to pay for it,” he said. “We really need to bring people together and look at what we can do to pay for this and what we can do about making adjustments to our tax code.”

The answer, he noted, isn’t necessarily a sales tax.

Finally, he said, stabilizing climate change and ensuring clean air and water was a top priority.

Bradbury’s leadership style, which he described as collaborative, would help him reach solutions and consensus, he said. “I’m very collaborative and I’m very honest about the challenges the state faces.”

Though Bradbury has been a political fixture in Oregon for more than 20 years, his name is not nearly as recognizable as Kitzhaber’s. There’s also some concern about his health. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, more than two decades ago. Over the years, he’s taken to using a scooter and cane.

Question about his health, he said, are valid, but the disease won’t affect his ability to govern.

“I’ve had it during my entire public career,” Bradbury said. “It’s clearly had some impact on me. I could not win the Portland Marathon. (But) it’s really clear to me that my MS does not hurt my ability to serve the people of this state.”

Already, Oregon politicos are taking sides. Attorney General John Kroger and Treasurer Ben Westlund, among others, endorsed Kitzhaber on Wednesday morning after the former governor spoke to the Portland Business Alliance about what he sees as the major issues facing Oregon.

Former Gov. Barbara Roberts has gone the other way; she’s expected to endorse Bradbury during his Thursday morning announcement.

The Republican side of the race has fewer big names floating around.

So far, there are three candidates: former businessman Allen Alley, state Sen. Jason Atkinson of Central Point and former legislator John Lim.

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