The Ungubernatorial Candidates

Chris Dudley and Jeff Cogen, both attractive candidates, are out of contention for a 2014 gubernatorial bid. Dudley lives out of state and Cogen is ensnared in a sex scandal.Two Republicans — Rep. Dennis Richardson and businessman Jon Justesen — have declared for governor and the Democratic incumbent is weighing whether to seek an unprecedented fourth term.

But what's more remarkable is the long list of people who aren’t showing any signs of running in 2014, even though the gubernatorial primary is now just nine months away.

One reason for reticence is the status of Governor Kitzhaber, who remains popular, but hasn’t decided whether to go for another term. Because of his name familiarity, he can afford to wait, keeping challengers cooling their heels.

But indecision often can be all the bait some eager beavers need to step forward as potential candidates and see whether any winds collect in their political sails.

Here is a quick look at who is definitely not running and who might be lurking in the weeds if Kitzhaber decides to focus on his own personal Happiness Index:

Definitely Out

  • Unsuccessful 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley, who has moved out of Oregon.
  • Oregon Congressman Greg Walden, who has risen steadily in the U.S. House leadership ranks and sees no good reason to sacrifice that for a gubernatorial run, at least at this stage of his political career.
  • Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who has found a national groove for issues such as sustainable growth and bike-friendly transportation that many viewed as local issues.
  • Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen, who went from golden boy to bad boy in a political instant after admitting to an affair with a county staffer, then hanging on for a criminal investigation and a slow march of new embarrassing details.
  • Former GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron Saxton, who might do better running as a moderate Democrat than trying to win the nomination of his own party that continues to veer to the political right.
  • Former GOP statewide candidates Kevin Mannix and Bill Sizemore, who, for different reasons, have slipped into the political shadows.
  • Democratic Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, who saw her political star tarnished over the last two years with election-related flubs and is now trying to rebuild her political brand with a new and improved staff.

The Maybes

  • Democratic Treasurer Ted Wheeler, who won praise for his job as chair of Multnomah County and in his first term as the state’s top financial officer. While he has kept a measured political profile, he hasn’t been a wallflower, offering major ideas for multi-state private investment in infrastructure and a dramatic increase in state investment in college student aid.
  • Former House GOP Leader Bruce Hanna, who teamed up with Democrat Arnie Roblan in a unique and by most measures successful power-sharing agreement to run the Oregon House in the 2011 and 2012 sessions. Not the most eloquent speaker, Hanna, who owns a soft drink distribution company out of Roseburg, comes across as sincere and looks like a gubernatorial candidates from central casting.
  • Unsuccessful GOP gubernatorial candidate Allen Alley, who went on to dig the Oregon Republican Party out of debt and despair, then stepped away, in part because of deep divisions within the party faithful. A successful entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Alley has other fish to fry, but may not be able to control his urge to try again.
  • Unsuccessful GOP candidate for secretary of state Knute Beuhler, who impressed Oregon’s media moguls, winning all major endorsements despite running against an incumbent. Despite running a solid campaign and having his own money to spend, Beuhler has drifted out of sight and hasn’t found an issue or two that he could use to catapult him to the front of the political line in 2014.
  • Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, whose position is non-partisan, but is a Democrat. He has run and won statewide against a credible Republican challenger. He comes from Washington County, where he ran unsuccessfully for an open congressional seat, which can be a source of swing votes in a tight race.