Friday, July 4, 2014

Kitzhaber's 1998 Opponents

Kitzhaber 1994

Bill Sizemore 1998 Campaign Pin
This is a follow up to our previous post on the political opponents of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. After winning his first term in 1994, it what was generally seen as a Republican year. The Gingrich Revolution never really seemed to hurt John Kitzhaber politically. He beat back Denny Smith and entered the 1998 race with strong prospects to being re-elected.

Had he been able to foresee the future, he might not have taken Sizemore as lightly as he did. After all, he would go on to beat Sizemore by over 300,000 votes in the general election. That was the widest margin a candidate for governor had earned in half a century. While Sizemore lost the 1998 election, his agenda seemed to prevail and derail Kitzhabers own agenda. A string of anti-tax ballot measures would soon follow Kitzhaber into the 21st century. He would continually have to sideline his own policy initiatives in order to fight off Sizemores anti-tax agenda.

Bill Sizemore entered the 1998 race in February of that year. Citing that 'Kitzhaber had been a lousy governor". He was out of touch. At the time he was Executive Director of Oregon Taxpayers United. Had run several statewide ballot initiative campaigns, but had not held prior political office. He turned out to be the most recognizable Republican name on the primary ballot.

He easily defeated three lesser known Republicans in the primary and took over as the Republican standard bearer in Oregon. The first debate was held in Welches and pitted Kitzhaber vs Sizemore in a polite string of serious policy disagreements. The debate was sponsored by the Oregon Newspaper Publisher Association. It may have not been the best forum for the first debate as Sizemore had spent most of the summer trying to put out fires raised by the press about his past business association and ventures.

What was most unusual about this debate as opposed to others that have happened after it was two third party candidates were allowed to address the publishers association. Libertarian Richard Burke and Reform party candidate Roger Weidner.

Another opponent of Kitzhaber came from the Socialist party of Oregon. Their nominee was Trey Smith. All I have ever seen from his campaign is a button. According to the 1998 Socialist party Senate nominee Dean Braa, the budget was probably under $1000 dollars for both their campaigns and consisted mostly of them traveling the state making joint radio appearances and doing local interviews.

1998 Socialist Party of Oregon nominee
If you have items for any of the other candidates ( Richard Burke, Blair Bobier, Roger Weidner, or Patti Steurer) we'd love to see them. 1998 was also the last gubernatorial election that the Natural Law Party, Reform Party and Socialist Party ran candidates for governor.

No comments:

Post a Comment