Tina Kotek Says Oregon Health Authority Director Should Sweat Her Election

Kotek said she drew up winning plays and state agencies fumbled the ball.

Tina Kotek is trying to fly through a narrow break in what looks like some nasty election-year weather.

With polls showing the voter mood is unusually sour, Kotek must find a way to distance herself from Oregon’s dysfunction in her bid for governor. But she’s also campaigning on a record of getting things done as the longest-serving speaker in the Oregon House. So are the things she got done just not that great for Oregonians?

WW explored that dilemma in a cover story last month. In an endorsement interview with our editorial board last week, Kotek showed how she’ll try to escape that trap.

She repeatedly asserted that Oregon’s problem wasn’t her progressive agenda, but incompetent execution. In other words, Kotek said she drew up winning plays and state agencies fumbled the ball.

And she said Oregon needed a forceful skull-cracker in the executive branch to hold bureaucrats accountable.

“It is not acceptable for an agency to say, ‘I can’t meet with you because you hurt my feelings because you went in the paper and said mean things about me.’ What the hell is that?” Kotek said, slapping the conference table for emphasis. “We have to get stuff done in Oregon. The goal of public service and the goal of state government is to do stuff, and to make things work for people.”

We asked her to identify the agency heads whose performance most concerned her. It sounded, we said, like Oregon Health Authority director Patrick Allen might have some job insecurity were Kotek elected.

“Yeah, he should have,” she replied.

Watch the full exchange here: