Kitzhaber wins historic 4th term
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber won a historic fourth term on Tuesday night, beating Republican Rep. Dennis Richardson. It was Kitzhaber’s most controversy-ridden campaign in his 35 years in Oregon politics.
Despite a campaign in which his office, his fiancée and his own moral compass were heavily covered and criticized, Gov. John Kitzhaber won a historic fourth term on Tuesday night, beating Republican Rep. Dennis Richardson in partial returns.
In the most controversy-ridden campaign of his 35 years in Oregon politics, Kitzhaber was questioned on a variety of fronts, from his handling of Cylvia Hayes’ private consulting contracts to the departure of one of his top aides last summer — the last allegation coming a few days before Tuesday’s voting deadline.
Kitzhaber, a politician known for keeping his personal life extremely private, watched his fiancée — and partner of 10 years — unravel as she was forced to confirm media reports that at age 29, she’d married an Ethiopian teenager in need of a green card and not long after, attempted to buy rural property in Central Washington with the intent of growing marijuana.
While the governor could easily separate himself from those events that occurred long before he knew Hayes, he has yet to fully answer questions about how his office handled Hayes’ contracts totaling as much as $96,000 that Hayes accepted while also serving as an adviser to Kitzhaber on similar topic areas.
A GOP lawmaker and the Oregon Republican Party filed complaints on the issue with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, which is expected to take up the issue late this year or early next year.
Kitzhaber also asked the commission for guidance on Hayes’ contracts and her role as first lady — that advice also isn’t expected soon.
Richardson, a retired lawyer from Central Point, Jackson County, aimed to capitalize on the scandals, hoping the negative light on Kitzhaber could shift the spotlight from his past comments and strong stances on social issues that the Democrats had dug up early on in the campaign.
Richardson released a series of negative web and TV ads and called for the U.S. Attorney to launch a “public corruption” investigation.
Still, Richardson never quite connected in urban areas and although he whittled away at Kitzhaber’s early double-digit lead, he remained behind in every poll throughout the campaign.