GOP candidate hoping to be the tallest U.S. governor
Poor John Kitzhaber. At a hair over six feet tall, he shouldn't look like a shrimp next to anyone, but shaking hands with Chris Dudley, his Republican opponent for governor of Oregon, he looks like a wee man.
Don't be too sad. Kitzhaber, a Democrat, does have some things going for him. While he was running the Beaver State from 1995-2003, Oregon's economy boomed. The worst thing it experienced was a flood of Californians seeking clean air and cheap real estate.
As the Times Pacific Northwest correspondent Kim Murphy points out, today the state "has been hit harder than most by the economic downturn, with more than 200,000 Oregonians out of work, one of the nation's worst rates of homelessness and poorly performing schools."
So the question that voters are faced with is, should they give their former governor another chance or put their state in the hands of a veteran NBA player best known for holding the record for missing the most consecutive free throws. The moderate Republican is a rookie politician who has never run a large company.
"Our past two governors have had over 60 years of experience between the two of them, and yet here we sit: 47th in job growth, 42nd in employment," Dudley said. "We need experience from outside of government to come in, and what I offer is … a vision of how to take Oregon forward."
Republicans are no strangers to tall leaders, Abraham Lincoln was a lean 6'4" and former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee towered at 6'6".
Whether Dudley can get his arms around the serious issues that face his state is the real question. Indeed, questions may plague the journeyman center who averaged a mere 3.9 points over 16 years. For example: Is he pro-choice? The New York Times seems to think he is, while Planned Parenthood and the progressive blog Blue Oregon thinks he isn't.
Leave it to Comedy Central's Indecision 2010 blog to discover this oddity about the candidate -- one that has nothing to do with height, abortion, or experience. "The Future First Lady of The Land of Beavers shares her husband's first and last name. Chris Dudley is married to Chris Dudley. So there is that."
Who said this year's election cycle coudn't get weirder?
-- Tony Pierce
Top photo: John Kitzhaber, left, and Chris Dudley, right, shake hands before a candidates forum held by the League of Oregon Cities in Eugene, Ore. Credit: The Register-Guard / Brian Davies
Second photo: Los Angeles Lakers' center Shaquille O'Neal, left, is fouled by Phoenix Suns' center Chris Dudley during a 2000 game in Phoenix. Agence-France Presse /Mike Fiala