Rumors were swirling this weekend that Governor Kulongoski is about to endorse former Hillsboro Mayor Tom Hughes in the Metro President race. This is a race between three solid candidates where endorsements could make a big difference to voters, so Kulongoski's support could swing some serious voters Hughes' way.

Evidence supporting this rumor: the Governor and Hughes know each other from way back when they both worked for the Oregon Education Association. These days they find common ground on one major Metro issue, the Columbia River Crossing (CRC). Kulongoski is desperate to push forward the CRC project as quickly as possible and Hughes would clearly pursue that agenda as well.

The Governor's office says Kulongoski is not making any endorsements in the race at this time. "At this time?" I asked. No endorsement at this time, came the reply. So maybe we'll see the Gov lend his support to someone soon.

In other Metro President race scuttlebutt, Rex Burkholder's campaign sent out an aggressive press release this afternoon demanding opponent Bob Stacey "end the recent divisive and baseless attacks" against Rex's environmental record. The release focuses on a January 14th email Liz Kaufman, a former Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV) board member who Burkholder's campaign describes as "a political consultant for Stacey", sent around to "a broad list of environmental advocates," according to the release. The email:

Guys - Wanted you to know that Bob Stacey has received the sole endorsement from OLCV for Metro President. Having watched this thing for years, I gotta tell you that you have to be REALLY bad on the issues if - as an incumbent- you don't get a joint endorsement from OLCV with your challenger, especially when you've been endorsed before like REx. Even Diane Linn against Ted Wheeler got a joint endorsement. Not REx. They just don't go against incumbents unless they're really bad.

I guess in my old age that I'm tired of these fake environmentalists. And if more people who consider themselves true environmentalists don't stick with that brand, you'll see what you get stuck with.

But complicating the issue is that Kaufman is not employed by the Stacey campaign. Stacey paid her $1,250 to help write his campaign plan back in August 2009 but since then, says Kaufman, she has not worked on the campaign at all (and state records show the campaign only cut her that one check in August). Kaufman says the "attack" email was sent from her personal email account to about six personal friends, it was not a campaign email intentionally targeting environmental leaders.

I want to reiterate what I said after the first Metro President debate last week: I think both Stacey and Burkholder are smart, excellent candidates and I'm glad I have a couple months to figure out who to vote for. But I also think it's ironic for Rex's camp to send out a press release attacking Stacey for making attacks, especially when the attack in question was made via personal email from an individual who is not officially working on Stacey's campaign. That looks to me like Burkholder's campaign trying stir up division, not Stacey's.

I ran my opinions past Rex, who responded that the press release is justified given that Kaufman worked for Stacey's campaign. "I hope the campaign keeps moving forward on the issues because that's what this is about," says Burkholder.