No governor of Oregon has ever served four terms. John Kitzhaber says he wants to be the first.
The Democrat kicked his campaign Monday pledging to make progress on health care, the environment and the economy.
With a class of kindergarten students looking on, Kitzhaber touted his record on education during a campaign kickoff at a Portland elementary school. The governor talked up his record on the economy, noting a 2 percent drop in the unemployment rate since he took office this time around.
Kitzhaber served two terms in the 1990s and returned for an unprecedented third term in 2011. The governor said among his accomplishments — coaxing a deeply divided Oregon legislature to pass major policy bills with a relative minimum of political bickering.
“We have not allowed partisanship to get in the way of doing the right thing for Oregon and for Oregonians, even when it required people to stretch beyond their ideology and beyond what conventional wisdom said could be done,” Kitzhaber said.
As the incumbent, Kitzhaber isn’t expected to face opposition in the Democratic primary next May. So far two Republicans are vying for the nomination: State representative Dennis Richardson and central Oregon rancher Jon Justesen.