John Kitzhaber for President? (w/Poll)

(Note: This diary was cross-posted at Kos)

I was very interested to see mention of John Kitzhaber, the former two-term Oregon governor, on Breaking Blue the other day (see entries and  

It seems that the popular ex-Governor and former emergency room doctor recently opted against a bid to reclaim his spot in Salem in favor of a project to promote health care reform, a project described as the Archimedes Movement (

What really piqued my interest however was the rumor, first reported at Political Wire ( and cited at the above MyDD links, that Kitzhaber had recently met with former Dean adviser Joe Trippi.  Could Kitzhaber have his mind on an even higher office?

A look at Kitzhaber's wiki page ( shows him to have solid credentials on issues of national interest such as health care, the cost of higher education, and growth management.  Having been a governor from a Western state would, all else equal, seem to be preferable for a Democratic nominee than would say being a Senator from the Northeast.  I think the Party's future success depends on our ability to expand our appeal in the Western half of the country, especially as the South slips further and further away each cycle.  Superficially, he appears to have some potential as a darkhorse nominee.

Having said all that, there's obviously a lot more info needed on him before I can write him in.  A quick google search revealed nothing on his position on Iraq, for example, and a Governor with no federal experience would have to work to burnish his image on foreign policy and defense matters.  

Would any Oregonians care to tell us about his handling of the state, how he's perceived by Oregon voters, and his speaking style, etc.?  He sounds like someone who may be worth a look.

Take the poll.

Tags: 2008, Health care, Joe Trippi, John Kitzhaber, Oregon, president (all tags)



I'd say yes

... if only to get universal (or near-universal) health care injected into middle of the debate in the primary process. And I don't know if it's feasible, since he's starting way behind in terms of money, organization, and name recognition, though I suppose it's somewhat plausible. The Dean parallels are certainly there... an unpretentious doctor-turned-politico who managed to effectively bridge the gap between invoking a lot of progressive themes and governing effectively from the center... and in February 2002, who can honestly say that anyone thought Dean would be more than a footnote?

And as a former Oregonian, I can say he's probably the most popular Oregon politician in a generation, at least to the extent that he managed to serve two terms and still be widely liked at the end of two terms. And with the Oregon Health Plan, he's really the only governor in decades to actually try anything bold, let alone succeed at creating it. Electorally, he played pretty well in the red parts of the state (at least breaking even in most counties), and he managed the Brian Schweitzer-esque task of taking progressive ideas and selling them as moderate, common-sense, straight-talk stuff. In terms of speaking style, he's pretty low-key and affable, and would need some serious coaching to play well on the national stage.

I'd be happy to see him try to take it to the next level, but probably where he'd be most useful would be running against Gordon Smith for Senate in 2008. He's probably the only slam-dunk candidate we'll have against Smith anytime soon. His explanation for not doing so is that he doesn't much like the whole Washington scene, and acknowledges it's the wrong fit for his style. So it does seem a bit odd that he'd be willing to go for president but not senator, when getting to the presidency involves about 100 times more sucking-up and pandering.

by Crazy Vaclav 2006-02-07 03:23PM | 0 recs
Re: John Kitzhaber for President? (w/Poll)

He is a moderate but comes from a liberal state. So, he can flush out both creditials.  He can get below the mason dixon line as well as above the mason dixon line.  I think Kitzhaber and Wesley Clark would be a good match. People who are moderates, but can flush out more liberal roots.

by mleflo2 2006-02-09 05:20AM | 0 recs
Re: John Kitzhaber for President? Or Senate?

Vaclav is right about Kitzhaber's popularity in Oregon -- it is unmatched among active public figures in Oregon. He could have won a third term.

No need for Kitzhaber to go on a duck hunting photo op -- you can just sense that he "has it", what DC strategists try so desperately to inculcate in their candidates to appeal to "social conservatives". If he were given a chance, I think he'd nail the entire West, maybe even Idaho, especially against Giuliani!

But Kos ran a piece lately saying he's a potential candidate for the US Senate in 2008, against Gordon Smith, which makes a lot more sense. Smith is a pretty smooth operator himself, and disingenuously sells himself as independent, but Oregonians  are getting wise to his far right voting record. I hope Kitzhaber is game -- I think the seat is his for the taking.

by jkap 2006-11-21 10:22PM | 0 recs


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