The Republican Party just might be able to step up to the line and score a free throw at the Oregon governorship for the first time since 1982 at the hands of former NBA star Chris Dudley. The 6-foot-11 GOP nominee may have been a notoriously bad free-throw shooter during his 16-year career, when he played for five teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers, but he’s shooting from downtown now to score polling points. Dudley appears to be flexing the NBA muscle he wielded apart from his free-throw lapses to pull ahead of former Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber entering the fourth quarter of this race in the recession-racked Beaver State, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times
Oregon voters haven’t elected a Republican governor since 1982, but a Rasmussen Reports survey today ranked the race as a tossup, with Kitzhaber at 48 percent and Dudley, at 46 percent in a survey Sunday of 750 likely voters after the candidates’ first debate. Some Oregon polls give the edge to Dudley. Kitzhaber, a medical doctor, left office in 2003 after being governor for eight years and now is trying to make a comeback in a state where Democrats hold the two U.S. Senate seats and control the state Legislature.
Dudley, who towers over Kitzhaber when they appear together, exudes confidence, telling the Times: "It's pretty safe to say I've got a good shot at it."
The state boomed during Kitzhaber’s tenure, but the Times notes that the recession has hit the state harder than most, leaving more than 200,000 Oregonians out of work, one of the nation’s worst rates of homelessness and lagging schools.
Dudley takes a moderate approach that the Times says recalls the Republican Party’s halcyon days in Oregon in the times of Sens. Mark Hatfield and Bob Packwood, whose long careers ended in the mid-1990s, and Gov. Tom McCall from 1967 to 1975.
He downplays issues such as abortion and gay rights, is moderate on environmental issues, and stresses his proposal to shave capital gains taxes to promote job creation.
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