Who Won the Gubernatorial Debate?

Who won the televised gubernatorial debate? Everybody has an opinion but few have a reason for that opinion.

In what can only be described as a polite exchange of positions – not a debate – I give the edge to Chris Dudley. He won by not losing.

The Democrats and their press agents in the mainstream media set very high expectations. Basically, they opined that the wily veteran and former governor with his lifetime of knowledge about Oregon government would crucify the big, dumb jock who isn’t even a native Oregonian. (Actually neither is Kitzhaber but apparently Colfax, Washington, is close enough while Stamford, Connecticut, is not.)

But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Dudley did just fine. He stuck to his message about job creation as the number one priority and to his belief that private enterprise creates jobs, not government. He zeroed in on the abuses of the public employee unions – high wages, high healthcare costs, and high pensions (PERS) – stacked high upon one Democrat administration after another. He demonstrated a self-deprecating sense of humor and fearlessness in stepping right into the fray. (But then again, you can’t be a pansy and live in the world of giants known as the NBA – when your number is called you “man up.”)

In contrast, there was old John Kitzhaber, still sporting his blue jeans, boots and opened neck shirt. It’s hard to tell whether he is still trying to look “Robert Redford-like” or he just can’t afford a suit and tie. Whatever the reason, it isn’t working and his appearance is just as shop-worn as his ideas. The man who once pronounced Oregon as “ungovernable” brought back the same old ideas that got Oregon into its sad situation. Whenever a question ventured into the realm of Oregon’s economy, Kitzhaber answered in terms of the state budget – apparently he can’t tell the difference between the two.

When the discussion turned to the cost of government, Kitzhaber asserted that the public employee unions would work with him to solve the budget crisis. He obviously doesn’t get it because it is precisely this “working with the public employee unions” that has brought Oregon to its knees fiscally. Gov. Goldschmidt, Gov. Barbara Roberts, Gov. Kitzhaber and Gov. Kulongoski have spent twenty-four years “working with (actually that is working for) the public employee unions and the result is wages that exceed their private sector equivalents, healthcare benefits that exceed those in the private sector, and a pension plan (PERS) whose unfunded future liability now exceeds the biennial general fund budget.

As for job creation, Kitzhaber is right back to the same play book that failed both he and his successor Ted Kulongoski – more government spending. In this case it is the bizarre notion that weatherizing the state’s schools will somehow jump start an economy that is so bad that ten of thousands of Oregonian have simply given up any hopes of finding work. And when Dudley criticized him for proposing to spend more money than Oregon has, Kitzhaber replied by saying that his proposal would be financed by revenue bonds – paid for by the savings in energy costs garnered from the weatherization.

What a bunch of crap. First of all, it’s all taxpayer dollars – the money borrowed, the money spent on weatherization and the money to pay back the sums borrowed. It may come out of different pockets, but it is all taxpayer money. Second, there isn’t the slightest bit of proof that the energy savings would be sufficient to pay back the amounts borrowed including interest in a reasonable period of time. The fact of the matter is if such savings were really available the schools would have done it already. And finally, it is like the Obama “stimulus” programs – all temporary, all subsidized, and all “stimulus” disappearing the moment the subsidies end.

There are people who practice a lifetime of delusion. There is the sportswriter who keeps picking Notre Dame for the top twenty-five NCAA football rankings despite it having successive losing seasons for several years. There are Rosie O’Donnell and Cindy Sheehan who think that the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers was an “inside job.” And there is John Kitzhaber who thinks that government creates jobs.

Okay, I’ll acknowledge, there isn’t anything really unique or new about Dudley’s proposals – targeted tax benefits for those who invest in Oregon, removing government impediments to business and job growth, and reigning in government spending to balance the budget. No, they aren’t new in concept, but given that Oregon’s twenty-four straight years of Democrat administration have steadfastly refused to implement them, they should be considered new to a generation of Oregonians who have never seen them in operation.

It’s time for change in Oregon and you aren’t going to find it by hooking up the old swayback nag to the buggy.

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 10 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    Marc Abrams (opposite Rob Kremer and a lawyer for the public employee unions sometimes) actually thought Chris Dudley won by a “field goal.” His reasoning which I shared is Chris isn’t a polish debater, and if he did not make any huge gaffes, he would score points.

    Chris also seems to be scoring points because he is generally more cheerful and upbeat, and actually such a demeanor is extremely important for marketing Oregon as a good place to locate and expand private enterprise. Chris has wheeled and dealed in the private sector, and so he also has the connections to promote Oregon’s economy.

    Kitzhaber’s big (retread) economic plan seems really lame when you consider also his proposed program would duplicate government programs already in place doing exactly the same thing, namely, school weatherization. The “Public Purpose” fee appearing on our utility bills earmarks a certain portion of the proceeds for school energy conservation by law.

    I think Chris missed an opportunity to really hammer Kitzhaber when he implied he would push for a sales tax and reversing measure 5. This is the same linear (block head) tax and spend policy of the past two democratic governors. But Chris did have a modest counter punch on this issue saying government tax revenue is always going to be volatile even for states having both income and sales taxes (e.g California).

    So, Dudley in the debate by a field goal. But off the debate floor: Dudley by two touchdowns!

  • valley p

    Election summary: Dudley is a nice guy, and since he has never done anything other than play basketball, he is not responsible for everything that is wrong. Kitzhaber is too smart to be nice, and since he has actually done things, he must be responsible for everything that is wrong.

    Dudley’s whole campaign reminds me of what the right wing military junta that took over Greece back in the 1960s is reported to have said. “The previous government brought Greece to the edge of a precipice, and now we have taken a step forward.”

  • Spikez

    valley p, I’m pretty sure that’s what the Nazis said about the Weimar. Not to make any comparison; just sayin’

    • valley p

      The precipice line? Really? Well then I stand corrected. But I’ll add that I’m not at all suggesting Dudley is either a Nazi or a Greek general. He is however, asking us to take a step forward with him off the precipice he says we have been brought to. Metaphorically speaking that is.

      • Jay

        Valley p, I have wondered for a long time what the “p” stands for and now it is clear: Pathetic Pinhead Progressive. You and your ilk continue to cheer on while the wrecking ball of the public employees’ unions and their Democrat puppets, posing as political “leaders,” lay waste to this State’s economy and run our public institutions into the ground. Not a word of protest from you, right? And what gets your juices flowing is the opportunity to marginalize those with whom you disagree in your most condescending and superior tone and then proclaim it “the end of the discussion.” Right again? According to your fine-tuned intellect, those who are the perpetrators of the dismissal situation in Oregon are to be applauded because they have ” actually done things.” So, let’s see, that must mean that we should not question where the hell this train is going because the engineer has been in plenty of train wrecks before. Brilliant!

        • valley p

          Gee Jay, first you call me a bunch of names (more creative names than Rupert calls me, so kudos for that,) and then you accuse me of being condescending. I’m not sure what to make of that combination.

          I don’t protest public employee unions because people have a right to organize and collectively bargain for pay and benefits. For the most part, union employees do blue collar work. The managers and politicians are not union members. I hold workers responsible for their work, not for managing or mismanaging the ship of state. Its above their pay grade.

          Our present economic mess was brought to us by national, not state policy decisions. Yeah, our unemployment is a tick higher than the national average. If the national average were 4%, that would be no big deal. At 10% it sucks. But overall, Oregon is managed as well or better than most states. We have almost no corruption, the potholes get filled, the bridges have not collapsed, the prisons are full, and most kids get a decent education. Old people get their bed pans changed. Our universities perform way better than we deserve given how little we spend on them.

          I don’t view John Kitzhaber as someone who drove the train off the tracks. His name would be George W Bush. When Kitz was governor the state was doing quite well. He was riding the Clinton economy, so I don’t credit him for that, but neither do I blame him (or any governor) when the national economy goes off the rails.

          Kitz was responsible for 2 major initiatives. One was the Oregon health care plan, which is less than perfect but better than the status quo ante. The other was the salmon and watersheds plan, which has done a lot of good for not much money. I think he has proven himself to be a competent, smart, dedicated politician. Chris Dudley has to date proven he is a nice guy without a single original idea for making things any better, even if he had any ability to implement something, which he doesn’t.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    >Kitzhaber asserted that the public employee unions would work with him to solve the budget crisis.

    Treating public employee unions as our partners at the negotiating table is what got us in this mess.

    When you negotiate, those sitting on the opposite side of the table are your opposition, not your friends. They intend to suck as much money out of you as they can, you intend to get as much work out of them as you can.

    For anyone who thinks public employee unions are partners, not adversaries, I would invite them to see how much those unions partner up when they sue over their contracts at the drop of a hat.

    This is reason one Kitzhaber should be out. He helped get us into this mess in a big way. His concept that public employee unions are our partners and will help get us out of this mess shows he has no idea of how we got here, thus its unlikely he will be of any use getting us out.

    Kitzhaber should go teach at a community college or some rinky dink school where fools who think when you negotiate with unions you are dealing with a partner tend to thrive. For a governor we need someone who has some basic sense on this issue.

    • David Appell

      Rupert: these unionized public employees are otherwise known as your neighbors. They teach your children. They dispose of your trash. I’ve never met a teacher who didn’t work very, very hard.

      Unions benefit workers. Unions have won a great many rights for workers. We need more unions, not less. Without them we’d all still be working 12 hr days, 6 days a week.

      Unionized state employees deserve every benefit they can obtain, as do all workers. Even you, Rupert.

      • Anonymous

        I guess you’ve never met Jerry Dawson?

  • Colorblind Justice

    Dudley won the debate “by not losing”?
    Oregon deserves a much better leader:
    Greg Kord for Tea Party Governor

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