After throwing competing parties on Friday and Saturday night here at Rebooting Democracy in Bend, Gubernatorial candidates Bill Bradbury and John Kitzhaber faced off in a more formal forum on the last day of the progressive conference. The two long-time, left-leaning politicians took questions from the crowd as well as a panel of advocates and one thing is clear: the two candidates agree more than they disagree. Sigh. Boregon politics.
To a certain degree, this race comes down to personality. John Kitzhaber has the more go-get-em-tiger style, while all conference attendees I've spoken with agree that Bill Bradbury is a really nice guy. At the beginning of the debate, the two candidates got to choose their intro song. Kitzhaber chose Chariots of Fire. Bradbury chose Tina Turner's Proud Mary (Rolling on the River), making a pun about his Segway "rolling into the future." See what I mean?
The debate wrapped up with a straw poll of the crowd via text message (automatically disenfranchising anyone over 40), which was narrowly won by Bradbury.
Rebooting is wrapping up. I'm heading back to Portland. To see what went down to this weekend out in Bend, check out my photos below. Coverage of the big debate below the cut!
Both candidates said they would repeal Measure 36, Oregon's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, prioritize public education, push to reduce prison populations and support college scholarships for children of undocumented immigrants.
The candidates differ on Liquid Natural Gas siting (as I reported in January), with Bradbury saying he would veto any bill that sites LNG in the state. The two also disagreed on education funding sources. Bradbury wants a ballot measure that would tell the state to find $2 billion for education, Kitzhaber criticized the idea as "unsustainable."
The most dramatic point of the debate, for me at least, came when the pair discussed the Columbia River Crossing (CRC). Both candidates spoke out against the 12-lane plan for replacing the I-5 bridge to Vancouver. Bradbury won a big round of applause for his fiery criticism of the big bridge, arguing that the state should instead do seismic upgrades to the current bridge and build a second, smaller transit and big/ped bridge. "We need to plan for getting light rail across the river, we need to plan for getting bikes across, we need to plan for getting freight across, but that doesn’t require 12 lanes, that’s nuts," said Bradbury.
Kitzhaber did not propose any specific blueprint for the CRC, and argued in support of rebuilding the current bridge but that it be "built and financed in a way to addresses the transportation goals of the future."
Update 5:57 PM Ahahaha, I didn't even notice until now but the Bradbury campaign sent out a congratulatory press release approximately four minutes after the straw poll winner was announced. Glad they had that one in the bag. From the release:
The vote followed a debate between the two Democratic candidates with Bradbury earning 55% of the vote to 42% for John Kitzhaber.
Following the vote Bradbury said, “I am extremely honored to have won this straw poll. To have the support of the young activists of the Bus Project across the state who do so much to engage, energize and mobilize voters is a great boost to my campaign.”