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Few Sparks Fly At First Gubernatorial Forum

Oregon gubernatorial candidates John Kitzhaber and Chris Dudley stuck to their familiar talking points as they shared the stage for the first time Saturday.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

The two spoke during a forum held at the League of Oregon Cities conference in Eugene.

It wasn’t really a debate. Kitzhaber, the Democrat, and Dudley, the Republican, were given the questions weeks in advance. There was no interaction between the candidates save for a brief handshake.

Kitzhaber is a former two-term Oregon governor. He told the gathering of mayors and city council-members from across Oregon that a down economy isn’t the time to elect someone like Dudley who’s never held public office.

John Kitzhaber: “With all due respect, I think experience matters particularly in these difficult fiscal times. And I don’t think we can afford to elect a governor with little management experience.”

Dudley countered that Oregon needs a new direction and that the tough economic times are the result of policies enacted by Kitzhaber and other Democrats over the past 20 years.

Chris Dudley: “Simply put, the choice is clear. Either we stay down the same path, which that experience has brought us to, where we’re last in everything. Or, we decide to go in a new direction.”

Libertarian Party candidate Wes Wagner and Constitution Party candidate Greg Kord were also part of the forum.

Dudley and Kitzhaber will field questions in a more traditional debate format Thursday evening on KGW television in Portland.

It’s their only other scheduled joint appearance in the campaign.

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