The Campaign Spot

Because This Man Can Get Oregon’s Economy on the Rebound

With all of the excitement about Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Arkansas, the Oregon primaries have been largly overlooked. The Wall Street Journal offers a surprising assessment:

With Oregon’s primary on Tuesday, the latest polls here show two rookies are likely to emerge as GOP nominees in both statewide races—governor and U.S. Senate. Both are tailoring campaigns to appeal to voters in an anti-insider mood, raising concerns among Democrats that incumbents, who usually see only token challenges, could face tough fights.

Both James Huffman and Chris Dudley expect their Republican primary victories to stimulate interest, and contributions, from the national party, even though both champion positions that scream “Mainstream Democrat” more than “Right Wing GOP”: Both are pro-choice on abortion, support civil unions for gay couples and neither is a member of the National Rifle Association.

Mr. Huffman, a law-school professor at Portland’s Lewis & Clark College looks like a lock to challenge Sen. Ron Wyden, the incumbent Democrat.

Mr. Dudley, a 15-year veteran of the National Basketball Association, leads in the GOP gubernatorial race, where his rival for the open seat is likely Democrat John Kitzhaber, a former governor. Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a Democrat, can’t seek a third term.

“Neither GOP candidate is particularly strong,” said Tim Hibbitts, a political consultant here. “But if they can reach a certain threshold with voters, then a tide could sweep them in.”

Both Messrs. Huffman and Dudley are counting on quasi-celebrity to eke out primary victories. Mr. Huffman has raised a Libertarian voice on spending and taxation as a frequent columnist for the state’s largest newspaper, the Oregonian. Mr. Dudley played for the Portland Trail Blazers, the state’s lone big-league sports franchise. The Yale graduate was known as a prolific rebounder, but dreadful at the foul line. His streak of 13 straight missed free throws set an NBA record.

Ah, but think of the slogans: Chris Dudley: Because Oregon’s sinking economy needs a man who doesn’t sink free throws.

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