PORTLAND -- Citing a track record of centrism, John Kitzhaber said he would ask voters for 'one last term' as Governor, during a press conference Monday. If elected he would be the first person to ever hold the Oregon office four times.
"Four years ago our state was a polarized state with an uncertain future," Kitzhaber said. "Our legislature was divided, facing high unemployment and a $3.5 billion budget deficit."
Kitzhaber listed restoring civility to state politics and 'rebuilding the political center' among his accomplishments.
"Partisanship and ideology are paralyzing our nations' capital," Kitzhaber said. "Here, we've shown time and time again that it is possible to work together."
To that end, the governor said that Oregon lawmakers had moved to reform higher education and the health care system as well as worked to attract new jobs. The state, Kitzhaber said, had the third fastest growing economy in the nation in 2012. He mentioned deals to win major expansions from Nike, Intel and Daimler Trucks as examples.
Kitzhaber twice used special sessions as a tool for governing. In Dec. 2012 he called the legislature together to push through a tax deal with Nike. In Oct. 2013 he brought lawmakers back to Salem for a so-called grand bargain that swamped reforms in the state employee pension system for tax changes and laws on genetically modified crops.
Kitzhaber claimed that 100,000 residents will be enrolled through Cover Oregon by Jan. 1, and that he expected 90 percent to be enrolled in 'quality' health insurance by 2016.
However, he did not mention the state's botched roll out of the Cover Oregon website until he was questioned about it.
“The website is not the exchange,” he said admitting that he thought it was a political issue. “I expect to suffer slings and arrows because of the rocky roll out, but we will get there.”
Cover Oregon has yet to enroll a single person since it launched on Sept. 1.
Back story: Cover Ore. site, phones on hold as deadline hits
Kitzhaber narrowly beat Republican Chris Dudley in 2010, beginning an unprecedented third term after eight years out of office. He's widely expected to face a much easier race in 2014. With a tea-party fueled wave of support for the GOP, 2010 was one of the toughest years in memory for Democrats.
Republicans Dennis Richardson, a state representative from Central Point, and Jon Justesen, a rancher from Eastern Oregon, have announced plans to challenge him in 2014. Richardson has raised $135,000, including $20,000 from Stimson Lumber, and Justesen has collected $40,000.
By the end of October, Kitzhaber's campaign had already reported contributions of nearly $232,000 in 2013. This already matched the amount he raised in all of 2012.
Nike and Comcast have each contributed $10,000 to the Democrat's campaign. He's received 12 other contributions of at least $5,000, including from Portland General Electric employees, PacifiCorp and several attorneys and business executives. He has nearly $140,000 in the bank, according to campaign finance disclosures to the state of Oregon.