Friday, October 01, 2010
Oregon Governor's debate 2010
Last night, the two major candidates for Oregon governor, Democrat John Kitzhaber and Republican Chris Dudley, participated in a debate sponsored by The Oregonian and KGW Channel 8. You can see the debate in its entirety here.
When I sat down to watch, I had already made up my mind to support Governor Kitzhaber, and after watching, I'm all the more convinced that he is the only real choice.
Chris Dudley, it seemed to me, did little more than recite standard GOP talking points. Cut capital gains taxes, reduce labor costs, decrease regulation. Is this not, as Governor Kitzhaber pointed out, simply warmed-over trickle-down claptrap that every Republican from Ronald Reagan to Junior Bush has been spewing for the last 30 years?
Dudley disappointed on so many levels, even granting him allowance for being a political rookie. His performance often seemed to deteriorate into a mindless repetition of key words. It was clear that he had been well-briefed by his highly-paid national Republican party operatives about which phrases to reiterate: a sad and cynical statement about how they view the voting public.
Dudley avoided any specific proposals about how to address the state's budget shortfalls beyond the tired, old Republican meme of cutting "wasteful" spending. The closest he ever got to a real proposal was to suggest that the Business Energy Tax Credit could be pared down, which seemed to contradict his supposed support for encouraging alternate energy businesses to come to the state.
Further, Dudley disappointed me on a personal level. I had always liked the man as a person. But, even after Governor Kitzhaber declined an opportunity to attack Dudley on avoiding Oregon taxes by establishing a residence in Camas, Washington, Dudley took a dig at the Governor. Rather than return the Governor's magnanimous gesture, Dudley tried to make hay over the pseudo-controversy surrounding Kitzhaber's nomination to the Oregon Investment Council of Jerry Bidwell, from whom Kitzhaber had acquired a home loan. Nothing pisses me off more than affording a courtesy to an opponent, only to have him ignore your gesture of good will to try to score cheap points. Bad form, Chris.
It is clear to me that Chris Dudley's ideas for Oregon involve opening the state up to rapacious corporate interests, putting a thumb on working class Oregonians, and freeing the upper echelon of its responsibilities for upkeep and progress.
Kitzhaber commands facts
Again, I can't claim to be objective, but it seemed to me that Governor Kitzhaber displayed his superior knowledge and political acumen right from the get-go. His answers included detailed (and very wonky) ideas. I especially liked his proposal to fund an effort to upgrade our public schools to be more energy efficient. As the Governor pointed out, this would have the advantage of creating jobs here in the state immediately and offer the long-term benefit of cost-savings for heating and cooling public school buildings.
Further, Kitzhaber suggested a targeted capital gains tax cut for corporations that reinvest those savings in Oregon. Responsible Republicans (if there are such) should be happy about that.
Governor Kitzhaber also demonstrated his much greater understanding of Oregon. He pointed out that there is a budding distillery industry in the state, naming specific businesses. He deftly answered a question about land development that had left Dudley stymied.
Kitzhaber has always preferred to run positive campaigns. Recall in 1994, when he first ran for governor, and resisted the negative campaigning that his opponent, Denny Smith, reveled in. Kitzhaber demonstrated yet again that he views such tactics as distractions.
Chris Dudley is just another of the GOP's cookie-cutter candidates a la Sarah Palin or Junior Bush. Lacking in capability and intellect, but attractive and able to recite poll-tested phrases. Further, he's a johnny-come-lately Oregonian, a wealthy outsider trying to elbow his way into the state.
Governor Kitzhaber has the experience, the knowledge, and the genuine love of Oregon that will provide the leadership we need going forward.
I urge you to join me in supporting Governor Kitzhaber.