PORTLAND, Ore. -- The candidates vying to represent the Democratic Party in the fall governor's election laid out their visions for Oregon over the next four years and beyond during a debate sponsored by KGW and The Oregonian.
Both of the candidates have long public records of service in Oregon. But Bill Bradbury and John Kitzhaber disagreed early on about how Democrats should lead the state if voters send them back to Salem.
Bradbury, the former Secretary of State, emphasized his pride in the coalition that Democrats have forged at the local, state and national levels of American government. He said if elected he would fight to champion Democratic ideals, which he said were fundamentally in-step with the values of Oregon's electorate.
Bradbury said that as governor he would work to make Oregon the world's sustainability capital. He believes the key to Oregon's future employment health lies in technology and new energy resources. He presented three major priorities to consider in managing the state's budget: Education, Environment and Elder care.
Former Gov. John Kitzhaber said that in the time since he'd left office, Oregon had possibly become an "even more ungovernable state" than it had been when he left Salem.
Kitzhaber touted his experience and perspectives as way to bring Oregonians together. A return to the center, he said, was what Oregonians needed now as the state faces budget deficits of nearly $2.5 billion over the next four years.
"I can navigate Oregon through the chasm we face. Oregon is not California - but we could go the way of California without strong leadership," Kitzhaber said in reference to the financial pitfalls faced recently.
Bradbury portrayed that as an outdated mode of government - and said another Kitzhaber term would amount to stepping backward instead of new leadership.
Kitzhaber dodged a question by KGW Straight Talk host Laural Porter, who asked why he did not save more money during the boom economy of the 1990s.
The debate is likely the last chance for voters to see the top two Democratic candidates in a live televised debate. According to The Oregonian, former Gov. Kitzhaber will not participate in a debate planned by KATU-TV.