Governor's debate a contrast in personality more than ideas

Kitzhaber and Dudley took to the stage Thursday night for what might be their only televised debate.They might disagree on tactics (and they definitely disagree on taxes), but the two main candidates for Oregon governor have similar goals for the state. Chris Dudley, a Republican, and John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, both want to create jobs, grow the economy and help struggling Oregonians. [Head over to Jeff Mapes' blog to catch video clips of Thursday's debate.]

Dudley's main dig at Kitzhaber is that he is a familiar face in the state Capitol. Many of Oregon's current woes matriculated from Kitzhaber's time in office 8 years ago, according to Dudley.  Dudley says he will bring fresh ideas because he isn't tainted by a political past.

"I think there is a difference between a new face and new ideas," retorted Kitzhaber. "Chris is certainly a new face and certainly a younger face than mine, but these are old ideas," he said, saying that many of Dudley's ideas are similar to those of President George W. Bush.

Their priorities for Oregon are similar, and so are their complaints about each other, but their personalities couldn't be more different.

In the debate last night, Kitzhaber was professorial and policy wonkish. He is a veteran of Oregon politics. His debate moments sounded like an audio-textbook on legislative policy, and he struggled to boil down his ideas so they could fit in the debate format.

Dudley was at ease with the audience, if not always with the topics of debate. He comes across as the kind of guy you want to shoot hoops with. He stuck to his talking points, which are polished and practiced, but it's clear he's a total newbie.

Oh, and did we mention Dudley is more than a foot taller than Kitzhaber? It's a visual clue to how different these two candidates are.

Both candidates will claim victory in this debate, which might be the only televised debate of the campaign.   It's unclear if yesterday's debate moved undecided likely voters in either direction, something Kitzhaber and Dudley will need to do to win the election.