It's just so wrong -- the highly respected political prognosticator FiveThirtyEIght saying that Chris Dudley has a 56% chance of becoming the next Governor of Oregon, while John Kitzhaber has a 44% chance.
Hey, we're a blue state! On the left coast.
I want Oregon to be an idyllic island of progressivism where Democrats like me can take shelter from the Republican storm that threatens to wash over most of the rest of the country come November.
Yet here we are, first week of September, just two months from election day, and Kitzhaber seems stuck in low gear while Dudley is accelerating toward the finish line.
That's my impression, at least.
I'm just your average political junkie who watches local TV, reads the Oregonian and Statesman Journal every day, and follows blogs like Blue Oregon, Daily Kos, and FiveThirtyEight. I've lived in Oregon since 1971, so I was here during Kitzhaber's two terms as Governor.
I want Kitzhaber to be Governor again. Badly. Dudley isn't the leader this state needs. But he's the leader Oregon likely will be getting unless something changes in the tenor of the gubernatorial race.
What worries me is that Kitzhaber doesn't excite me, and I'm easily excitable when an energetic, creative, passionate Democrat walks onto a political stage (such as Obama in 2008).
So if I've got the blahs for Kitzhaber, when I should be feeling a lot more, imagine how less progressively-minded voters are looking upon the (D) candidate. Not very enthusiastically, judging from the poll numbers.
It seems to me like today's John Kitzhaber is almost exactly like yesterday's, just seven-plus years older (he was Governor from 1995 to 2003). Yet Oregon is in markedly worse economic shape, and faces much worse budget problems.
Wearing blue jeans and cowboy boots while dispensing a string of wonkish policy prescriptions in a laid back professorial manner isn't going to cut it with the Oregon electorate this time around.
Dudley's campaign recognizes that. I sure hope Kitzhaber's advisers do also before it is too late.
This state is in the doldrums. We're looking for a cheerleader who also is a great coach -- someone with both a vision of where we need to go and a solid plan to get us there. Dudley is doing a better job at cheerleading right now, while Kitzhaber is back in the locker room diagramming policy plays on the chalkboard.
That's got to change.
It seriously bothered me several weeks ago when Kitzhaber turned down $700,000 worth of attack ads the Democratic Governor's Association wanted to run against Chris Dudley. He's behind in the polls, Dudley is dominating the TV airwaves, and Kitzhaber wants to take the high road?
Which threatens to lead to a depressing destination: Chris Dudley becoming Governor. Since that "I don't need $700,000" moment I've been deleting fundraising emails from the Kitzhaber campaign as soon as they enter my inbox.
If Kitzhaber doesn't want those big bucks from the Democratic Governor's Association, I assume he doesn't want little bucks from me either.
Of course, a Willamette Week story implies that the reason Kitzhaber passed on the DGA ads is that they took Dudley to task for not voting in a majority of Oregon's recent elections. It happens that this is just what Kitzhaber did also, so he didn't want to make this into a campaign issue.
Anyway, Kitzhaber finally is running an ad that points out Dudley's lack of managerial and job-creating experience. Excellent.
Yet Dudley still seems to be winning the P.R. war, with a case in point being his recent proposal to offer full scholarships to Oregon colleges for high school students in the state with high GPAs.
Today Oregonian columnist Steve Duin praised Dudley for this, and Duin usually strikes me as being on the leftish side of the political spectrum. Reading the comments on his piece, I was struck by how many people said they were loyal Democrats, yet Kitzhaber was in danger of losing their vote if he didn't start to show more gusto.
There's no way I'd ever vote for Dudley. I'm deeply concerned, though, that lots of Oregonians are going to be taken in by Dudley's fresh appeal, while thinking "I've heard that stuff before" when Kitzhaber speaks.
Step it up, John.
You're only down a few points in the polls. There's plenty of time to stage a comeback. You just need to show Oregonians some fire in the belly. Start acting like you really want to be Governor again, and you really have some innovative ideas for getting this state back on track.
Make voters say Wow! Not what one person said in a comment on Duin's column:
We are in a funny situation. My kids love it here and will never leave...luckily they are smart, well read and educated...and comprehend the crisis we are in. One of them is 21. He says...." Kitzhaber bores the hell out of me....I fall asleep when he speaks..where's the beef...the zip..the pizazz..the enthusiasm?" He's right. All buckle and no belt....
Dudley is new to this stuff and the odds are stacked against him. He isn't anyone's fool. Guys got guts going up against the Post Goldschmidt/Katz/Kitzhaber machine. I voted for all of them and now it's time for a change.
Goldschmidt is a pedophile, Vera is the alien birth mother of Sam the Scam Adams and John is just plain out of touch.
I don't know how I'll vote. I'm undecided. Kitz better come out with something comprehend able, intelligible and less wonky....or I swear to got I will vote for Dudley...