The only question about ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber
on Tuesday night was when he would arrive at the Melody Ballroom to claim Oregon's Democratic gubernatorial primary
The co-hosts of his victory party at the Melody Ballroom on Southeast 6th and Alder, State Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton) and Oregon Bus Project Director Caitlin Baggott stalled for time as large TV screens showed Kitzhaber enjoying a 30-plus percentage point lead over former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury
They provided the evening's biggest surprise by introducing former Secretary of State and State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Norma Paulus
, the first woman to win state-wide office in Oregon and the last Republican
woman to hold state-wide office.
Paulus told a half-full room that Kitzhaber has all the "attributes of [former Gov.] Tom McCall," the moderate Republican governor who served as governor from 1967 to 1975. (McCall also tried what Kitzhaber hopes to do—come back for a third term. But McCall fell short in the 1978 election.)
Finally arriving at about 8:50 pm, dressed in cowboy boots, jeans and a white button-down Oxford shirt with a tan blazer, Kitzhaber told the crowd he'd just taken a call from "my good friend Bill Bradbury" to concede the race.
Following in the bi-partisan spirit that brought Paulus to the stage, Kitzhaber pledged to run "not as a Democrat, not as a Republican but as an Oregonian."
"During this campaign, I have not talked about defeating a Republican in the fall, I have run straight at our problems and telling people not what they wanted to hear but what they needed to hear," Kitzhaber said.
The Democratic Party of Oregon will take care of the partisan stuff. Even as Kitzhaber spoke, the DPO launched a website
aimed at GOP front-runner Chris Dudley, who defeated rival Allen Alley.
And, Kitzhaber's supporters clearly have their eyes on Dudley, a political newcomer who has shown a formidable fund-raising skill but a lack of specificity on issues.
"If you need brain surgery, who are you going to go to?" asked Chip Lazenby, who served as Kitzhaber's general counsel. "A guy who's been operating for 20 years or your nice-guy neighbor who wants to use a butter knife?"
We'll update this in a minute with the scene from Bradbury's party.
with reporting by Ott Tammik from Bradbury's bash:
The scene was hardly funereal at the party for Bradbury, who's always known as a happy warrior.
“I think we took some key positions on issues that helped move the ball forward,” Bradbury told WW
before telling supporters,“I just want to have fun.”
As for his future, Bradbury said he has no plans to run for anything else immediately and will go to China with Al Gore in June to push climate change.
“I'm not really worried about it," Bradbury said. "I'll stay involved”.
Bradbury campaign intern Brandi Dennis, a Portland State University student, called the loss “a bummer for sure."
"We all believed in him and gave 110 percent effort," Dennis said.