GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Sizemore won a victory i
n Multnomah County Court last Friday. Previously, Judge Janice Wilson forbid Sizemore from raising money for political purposes as part of her ruling in favor of teachers unions against the longtime initiative activist.
But on April 9, as first reported by the blog NW Republican
, Sizemore convinced Wilson that preventing him from raising money for his gubernatorial campaign in the May 18 primary effectively denied him free speech and the right to operate a campaign. The change was confirmed by Tony Green, a spokesman for Attorney General John Kroger — whose office was represented in Friday's court proceeding. Green wrote in an email to WW
"The practical effect of the modification is to permit Sizemore for Governor to be formed without the Court's approval and without restrictions placed on Sizemore's role in its management and control. The modification also permits Sizemore for Governor to raise and spend money."
Sizemore won the GOP nomination in 1998, only to lose badly to then-Gov. John Kitzhaber in the general election.
Judge Wilson's decision may not change the race much in the 2010 primary, given that ballots go out April 30 and GOP contenders Allen Alley, Chris Dudley and John Lim have all been actively raising money and winning endorsements for months while Sizemore's campaign hung in legal limbo.
A more interesting question is what Sizemore will do if he doesn't win the GOP nomination. His many years of high-profile initiative activity and previous candidacy make it likely that he's the best known of all the GOP gubernatorial candidates. He's also far more conservative than either of the two GOP front-runners, Alley (a former Pixelworks CEO) and Dudley (a former Portland Trail Blazer).
Oregon's recent gubernatorial history includes third-party candidates who have taken significant chunks of the vote from GOP candidates. In 1990, Independent Al Mobley got 13 percent of of the vote, thus costing Republican Dave Frohnmayer the race. In 2002, Libertarian Tom Cox won 4.6 percent of the vote, which was greater than Democrat Ted Kulongoski's margin of victory over Republican candidate Kevin Mannix that year.
Sizemore says he's already been approached about running on a third party ticket, although he won't say by whom. "At this point it's not something I would consider," he says. "But that could change, depending on what happens."
Specifically, Sizemore says he's likely to stay out if Alley wins the GOP nomination but might enter the race if Dudley prevails in the primary.
"I think Alley is qualified and capable of being a good governor," Sizemore says. "Dudley is somewhat to the left of [former U.S. Sen.] Gordon Smith and if Dudley wins, I'd be more open to running."
More immediately, Sizemore plans to address a Tea Party gathering in Grants Pass on tax day, April 15. "Those are my kind of people," Sizemore says. "Outside of Portland, I think I still have a lot of good will in this state."
Update at 2:45 pm:
An alert reader points out that Sizemore probably cannot legally run in the general election as a third-party candidate if he loses the GOP primary. Here's the relevant election law from the Oregon Revised Statutes:
ORS 249.048 Unsuccessful candidate not eligible as candidate. A candidate for nomination of a major political party to a public office who fails to receive the nomination may not be the candidate of any other political party or a nonaffiliated candidate for the same office at the succeeding general election. The filing officer may not certify the name of the candidate.