Campaign Watch: The week in Oregon politics

Of the Associated Press

SALEM — Oregon's gubernatorial candidates agree to five debates. Republicans owned the Independent Party primary. And we now know the full slate of ballot measures for November. Here's a look at some of the week's more interesting developments in Oregon politics:


Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber and his Republican rival, state Rep. Dennis Richardson, have agreed to five more debates before the November election.

The pair squared off last week in a debate sponsored by the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association.

This week, Kitzhaber's campaign manager, Mike Marshall, proposed five additional meetings — two in Portland, and one each in Eugene, Medford and Bend.

Richardson campaign manager Charlie Pearce responded hours later, agreeing to “at least five debates,” though not specifically to those that proposed by Kitzhaber's team.

Details of who's hosting, where they'll be and when are still to be ironed out, said Meredith Glacken, a Richardson spokeswoman.

With a significant disadvantage in fundraising, Richardson has perhaps the most to gain from the free television time that comes from a large number of debates. But Kitzhaber made a big issue of his 2010 rival Chris Dudley's reluctance to debate, so he can't afford to appear to be avoiding rhetorical duels with Richardson.

Kitzhaber proposed debates sponsored by: KGW and The Oregonian in Portland; Oregon Public Broadcasting and the Portland City Club in Portland; KOBI and the Medford Mail-Tribune in Medford; the League of Oregon Cities in Eugene and the Oregon Association of Broadcasters in Bend.

Richardson's aides say they'd like to get KATU of Portland and KTVZ of Bend in on the action.


Richardson won the Independent Party's nomination for governor, grabbing a prize that Kitzhaber won four years ago.

In fact, Republicans as a group did much better than Democrats this year.

“As a group, the Republicans appeared to invest more time and resources into this election than did the Democrats,” said Sal Peralta, Independent Party secretary.

On the ballot, candidates can be identified with multiple parties. So in addition to the REP initials that designate Richardson as a Republican, he'll get three more: IND.

Most unaffiliated and Independent voters lean strongly to one party or the other, so political observers consider the value of the Independent Party nod to be marginal. But candidates like any advantage they can get, and being able to call themselves “Independent” on the ballot certainly can't hurt.


We now know which initiatives have earned a slot on the Oregon ballot this year.

State officials this week certified the last two ballot measures, which would legalize marijuana for adults and require labels on genetically modified foods.

Several initiatives that started with much fanfare were later dropped — taxation and anti-union measures, a gay marriage initiative.

Here's what did make the cut, including measures referred by the Legislature:

— Recreational marijuana legalization;

— Labeling requirements for genetically modified foods;

— A top-two primary to replace the partisan primary elections;

— An equal-rights amendment for women;

— Granting driving privileges to people who can't prove they're legally in the country;

— Allowing judges to serve in the National Guard or teach at state universities;

— Authorizing the state to take on debt to pay for student financial aid.

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