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A pro-incumbent year in Oregon

This is supposedly an anti-incumbent year. But not in Oregon. Yesterday nine incumbents in the state legislature won primaries, and in perhaps the most high-profile race of the election -- the Democratic gubernatorial primary -- voters took opting for the incumbent one step further, selecting Democrat John Kitzhaber, himself a former two-term governor (1995-2003), to run for an unprecedented -- and inconsecutive, Grover Cleveland-style -- third term. Kitzhaber’s victory is especially noteworthy, considering his opponent was Bill Bradbury, a popular former secretary of state who saw his more progressive platform shouted down by Democratic voters who chose the “go with what you know” route with Kitzhaber. Too much of that can be bad for democracy.

Among Bradbury’s proposals was the creation of a “Bank of Oregon,” an institution modeled after the Bank of North Dakota, a governmental organ designed to keep North Dakota-earned money in the Peace Garden State for use by North Dakotans. Writing for The Nation in March, John Nichols explained the remarkable benefits of a state bank: “[North Dakota]’s state-owned bank avoided subprime lending and the derivatives markets during the recent real estate bubble and now has $4 billion under management. It maintains the faith of its founders and, in the words of bank president Eric Hardmeyer, continues to ‘plow those deposits back into the state of North Dakota in the form of loans. We invest back into the state in economic development type of activities.’” Bradbury also proved himself to be more progressive on environmental issues, trumpeting the idea that, if elected governor, he’d make turning Oregon into “America’s Green State” a top priority.

Yet, innovative platform or no, Bradbury was trounced by thirty-six percentage points, as the few Oregonians who bothered to fill out ballots made it clear that consistency and stability were their priority number one. Stability, of course, is a trait to be valued in government. But stable can transform into sclerotic quite easily, especially when citizens begin to feel electoral outcomes are merely predetermined coronations.

By vanden Heuvel  | May 19, 2010; 1:56 PM ET
Categories:  vanden Heuvel  | Tags:  vanden Heuvel  
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Comments

To many in Oregon, Kitzhaber has the image of the outsider and the maverick while Bradbury has touted the more convential Democratic slogans in this campaign. Kitzhaber, a retired physician, also was a pioneer when he was governor in promoting a popular statewide-health plan which he is still strongly associated with. I would disagree with Ms. Vanden Heuvel's characterization of him as a status quo politician.

Posted by: Munir1 | May 20, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

The author blows her entire story on the Governor's race, omitting that Bradbury has multiple sclerosis and that Kitzhaber looks like a model from a Calvin Klein ad.

Really, what is important with you Easties?

Seriously though, Oregon is blessed with the best progressive politicians in the nation on the whole.

It is only fitting, as we have a paradise to protect, and the wisdom of thinking 7 generations ahead was learned from the first peoples of this land.

Posted by: forestbloggod | May 20, 2010 1:58 AM | Report abuse

Oregon is indeed America's future: poverty with a view. High taxes, entrenched class warfare, a bloated and growing, Greek-style public sector. Try finding a good-paying job there.

No jobs, no hope, no problem.

Posted by: politbureau | May 20, 2010 3:18 AM | Report abuse

I can only claim some famiiarity with Oregon's politics, but I'm disappointed Bradbury didn't win if he was a creative, green candidate. "Going green" is where Oregon leads the nation but it still has a long, long way to go.

Posted by: francis4 | May 20, 2010 7:14 AM | Report abuse


People who are too far to the left to be happy in California move to Oregon.

Posted by: screwjob15 | May 20, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

DEATH PANELS, EURO-SOCIALISTS


" .. Kitzhaber, a retired physician, also was a pioneer when he was governor in promoting a popular statewide-health plan which he is still strongly associated with .."

Which uses RATIONING. If that is your thing.

If you are mentally ill, or have cancer -- too bad.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Health_Plan

Posted by: russpoter | May 20, 2010 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Good, all Democrats should move to Oregon. Then we can save America and the Democrats can have their very own Greece.

Posted by: jblast2000 | May 20, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

The Communist Katrina needs to move to Cuba!!

She needs to dig sooo deep to find some good news for the left!

It is time for America to cut off the left coast or start voting for America not against it!!

Posted by: jcmale14 | May 20, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Life must be good for a trustfund socialist......

Shilling for the left in a semi-grown up newspaper as opposed to her fish wrapper aka "The Nashun"......... or something

Posted by: georgedixon | May 20, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Hasn't this "going green" absurdity about run its course? If people really wanted to "go green," they could start by not making so many more people for the planet to support. Mankind's biggest threat is men, not merely the activities of men. No matter how we conserve, if we don't stop breeding we can't keep feeding. I'll take the "going green" movement seriously when they start advocating voluntary sterilization.

Posted by: gasmonkey | May 20, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

"Pro-incumbent" implies the incumbent is there to stay. Caucus'es and primaries only determine who will represent the party in the general election.

Whoever Oragonians elect in the general election in November better be committed to reducing deficit spending and stopping the staggering growth in the federal debt or it won't make a damn bit of difference who's in office when we go under.

Posted by: avatar666 | May 20, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

"Pro-incumbent" implies the incumbent is there to stay. Caucus'es and primaries only determine who will represent the party in the general election.

Whoever Oragonians elect in the general election in November better be committed to reducing deficit spending and stopping the staggering growth in the federal debt or it won't make a damn bit of difference who's in office when we go under.

Posted by: avatar666 | May 20, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

gasmonkey makes a good point. If there were fewer people there would be less wear and tear on the earth. I don't know why we stopped thinking about population control in the 1990s. Even so, we have definitely moved toward smaller familes. When I was a kid most families had around 4-5 kids. No days one or two is much more common.

Posted by: justjake | May 20, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

That's because Oregon is smarter than the rest of you.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | May 20, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

"Oregon is indeed America's future: poverty with a view. High taxes, entrenched class warfare, a bloated and growing, Greek-style public sector. Try finding a good-paying job there.

No jobs, no hope, no problem.

Posted by: politbureau | May 20, 2010 3:18 AM | Report abuse "

I have a great-paying job here in the private sector, as do many of my friends. Perhaps you simply lack skills, like so many of your Right-Wing troglodyte friends :)

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | May 20, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Isn't it just like a limousine liberal to applaud the stale status quo. And in a real bellwether state like Oregon(!), which practically invented the granola crowd.

But don't spend too much time writing columns, Ms. Vanden Heuvel. According to Politico, your leftist rag, The Nation, is $1,000,000 in debt. You need to be doing some fundraising!

Posted by: Azarkhan | May 20, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

The best thing about Oregon is that the few Right Wingers we have are exiled to the remote parts of the state. Also they pretty much remain quiet unlike the screamers you hear in the South. We like to keep it that way.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | May 20, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

"To many in Oregon, Kitzhaber has the image of the outsider and the maverick while Bradbury has touted the more convential Democratic slogans in this campaign. Kitzhaber, a retired physician, also was a pioneer when he was governor in promoting a popular statewide-health plan which he is still strongly associated with. I would disagree with Ms. Vanden Heuvel's characterization of him as a status quo politician.

Posted by: Munir1 | May 20, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse "

Pretty much. Bradbury was really underwhelming. I'm not sure the author of this article knows much about Oregon politics.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | May 20, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Ms. vanden Huevel is as delusional about Oregon as she is about the rest of the world. Bradbury was about as electable as a Republican in DC. The turnout was virtually nill. Kitzhaber won on name recognition, not policy. We'll see in November when he takes on a real outsider in Dudley. If the Republicans win that one.......

Posted by: expostcarrier1951 | May 20, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

politbureau

"Oregon is indeed America's future: poverty with a view. High taxes, entrenched class warfare, a bloated and growing, Greek-style public sector. Try finding a good-paying job there."
No jobs, no hope, no problem.


You view of America is certainly twisted. When I was last in Portland, I saw a clean, friendly, liveable city with a physical and social infrastructure to make it work well. I'd imagine your America would have the government pared back to the Cabinet Departments of the 1700's - State, War and Treasury. You would probably incinerate the social net assuming that any one that needs a hand doesn't deserve one and can be deported. Class warfare to you is asking Americans to pay for ANY program that helps ANY part of the population that doesn't live next door or look just like you.

No poor, no taxes, no trouble.

Just remember, if life gives you lemons, you deserve it - MOVE!

Posted by: chuck2 | May 20, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I'll take the "going green" movement seriously when they start advocating voluntary sterilization.
Posted by: gasmonkey |
-------------

The trouble is that those people who are producing too many children will continue to do so, and those (educated people with a social conscience) who already have too few children will take your advice and have still fewer. It is well known that educated women have fewer children and hence the odds are pretty good that a child taken at random has a mother who is not educated....

America is having abortions and importing people from Mexico. Isn't that a bit odd?

Posted by: rohit57 | May 20, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"Ms. vanden Huevel is as delusional about Oregon as she is about the rest of the world. Bradbury was about as electable as a Republican in DC. The turnout was virtually nill. Kitzhaber won on name recognition, not policy. We'll see in November when he takes on a real outsider in Dudley. If the Republicans win that one.......

Posted by: expostcarrier1951 | May 20, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse "

Dudley has a huge uphill climb. Kitzhaber is popular in this state. Dudley is a former (pretty mediocre) basketball player with absoultely ZERO political experience. I've seen some of the answers Dudley has given to pretty basic nuts and bolts questions during primary debates and it was obvious he was reciting talking points without any real understanding of the issues behind them. He'll basically be run by advisors if by some miracle he were to win.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | May 20, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Kitzhaber's Oregon Health Plan as passed was proposed to be a universal, free health plan and a model for the nation. Then the OHP began charging premiums. Then it began cutting benefits. Then it began rationing. Then it began dropping enrollees. Then it began not taking new members. It nearly bankrupted the state. The OHP became a Kitzhaber catastrophe. Then Kitzhaber proposed a per mile driven gas tax. He won the primary with votes from the ultra leftist majority that is centered in Portland, Salem and Eugene. Winning the primary was less about pro incumbency and more about ideology. They would have voted for anyone as liberal as Kitzhaber.

Posted by: hossplay3 | May 20, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Portland and by that we mean much of Oregon's population is currently being governed by a mayor, a proven liar who is a disgrace.
A police department that shoots first then lets the inquiry sort out the details and a populace that has become so liberal that the many voices chanting and screaming have
created a special interest block that influences and prevents any real leadership decisions; from needed new bridges to green power projects. This influence spreads from Portland to every corner of the state. Portland will select the new governor

Kitzhaber was a do-nothing governor who lead during a very quiet time in Oregon politics- everything was going well "lets leave well enough alone", and was able to play with his health program a program that was very successful in some ways.
the only real crisis i recall him leading was when the freighter Karissa came ashore and broke up and polluted the beach.

Kitzhaber does have good health, a magnetic appeal, especially to the hipster, liberal, white middle classes of Portland, and he does have experience so he has a good chance at a third term

Tom McCall a legendary leader, our other governor to try a third term was a much weightier leader than Kitzhaber , and he was not successful in securing the post


Posted by: ruralbeautification | May 20, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I would support this "Bank of Oregon", since it would make it much easier to know which bank to rob to get your stolen money back.

As it is now, it is just as hard finding out "which bank to rob", as it is to find out "which politician to assassinate".

With both cases, there are currently too many.

With one single bank in Oregon where they put all of our stolen money, it would be easy for an Oregonian to know which bank to rob, if they ever decided to accept their responsibilities both as Oregonians and as Americans.

Posted by: RigidPrinciples | May 20, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I think it's like this: We have problems. The State of Oregon is in financial trouble like most all the rest of the states. The question is.... Do we want to hire someone who knows the ropes, knows the territory, knows the job........ or do we want someone who has no relevant job experience, brags that they have no job experience and considers lack of experience an asset to fix the problem?

Would you hire a plumber or electrician or a mechanic that way?

Hint: I personally wouldn't recommend it.

(I know being an incompetent is 'in' with the republican party and tea-folks but it's magical thinking and not a way to run a effective government)

Posted by: cfeher | May 20, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

"Magical thinking", imo, equates to believing that having the government hold a gun to our heads, to steal our money, is in any way, shape, or form, a civilized way to run a government.

As I mentioned earlier, it really comes down to finding out which politicians to kill. And when you ponder it, deeply, over and over, and yet over again, the answer is usually "all of them".

That is no excuse to not start somewhere though :)

Posted by: RigidPrinciples | May 20, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

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