July 27th, 2010 5:33 pm | by HANK STERN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

John Kitzhaber Has Had Better Days

John Kitzhaber

Not a great day on the political horse-race front for Oregon Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber.

First came this morning's front-page piece on fund-raising in The Oregonian detailing how Republican Chris Dudley, a rookie candidate (albeit one with name recognition from his NBA career), is outdistancing a veteran pol like Kitzhaber, a former two-term governor and ex-president of the Oregon Senate.

Then there's this new poll from Rasmussen Reports (yes, the polling outfit that Democrats say is full of it) showing Dudley maintaining a small lead over Kitzhaber. Dudley's 3-percentage-point lead is within the survey's margin of sampling error. But given the general pessimism about the economy among survey respondents, the most troubling number in this poll for Kitzhaber is this: "Seventy-nine percent (79%) of voters who think the economy is improving favor Kitzhaber. Seventy-three percent (73%) of those who say it is worsening support Dudley."

And then, as reported on BlueOregon, Swing State Project has moved the Oregon gubernatorial race from "Likely D" to "Tossup." I found the most interesting part about BlueOregon's discussion with the Swing State people to be the comparison of the Oregon race to the California gubernatorial contest.

In California, ex-Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, faces wealthy Republican Meg Whitman in his bid to return to the job. When I was in California a couple weeks back, the news was filled with stories about Brown's advisers trying to re-assure supporters that Whitman's large fund-raising advantage—and ability to dominate TV with ads—didn't matter so much because Brown was already well-known to Californians. The problem with that contention is that polls showed younger voters had much less idea who Brown was and that Whitman's ads were doing the defining for them.


A lesson for Kitzhaber, who left the governor's office in 2003?
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