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Governor's race shaping up.

Byline: The Register-Guard

Those waiting to see whether Rep. Peter DeFazio would jump into the governor's race were given a big clue Wednesday when most of Oregon's top Democrats publicly lined up behind former Gov. John Kitzhaber. It's likely that Attorney General John Kroger, Treasurer Ben Westlund, Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo and others would still be on the sidelines if they believed a Kitzhaber-DeFazio contest was in the cards.

Wednesday's endorsement-fest cast a pall over former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury's formal announcement of his candidacy for the Democratic nomination the next day. Bradbury's only top-drawer supporter was former Gov. Barbara Roberts, who hasn't forgotten that Kitzhaber was willing to run against her in 1994. Roberts did not seek re-election.

Kitzhaber's main vulnerability is that he already had eight years, from 1995 to 2003, to show what he could do as governor. But Bradbury is not ideally suited to portray Kitzhaber as a retread, because he's been a fixture of Oregon politics for more than a quarter of a century. Bradbury will also have to contend with people on the left of the Democratic Party who haven't forgiven him for his role in keeping Ralph Nader off Oregon's presidential ballot in 2004.

On the Republican side, news that former U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith will become head of the National Association of Broadcasters ends the GOP's long-shot hopes for a big-name gubernatorial candidate. The Republican field consists of state Sen. Jason Atkinson of Grants Pass, 2008 treasurer candidate Allen Alley and former legislator John Lim of Gresham. There may be others, but all in all, it was a good week for Kitzhaber.
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Title Annotation:Editorials
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 19, 2009
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