Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Kulo Gets Nat'l Press--Not the Good Kind

Two articles have popped up in the last two days in major city papers from Boston and Washington, DC--and predictably, they did not end up in Ted's blog:
In a year when Democrats are considered in a good position to take control of more than half the nation's governorships, one of their worries lies in Oregon.

Even some of Gov. Ted Kulongoski's own Democratic allies say he often has been disappointing. Many voters say the centrist lacks pizzaz, charisma and big ideas.

The governor admits no policy failures. But, with a primary election coming up, he does acknowledge a need to do a better job of touting his accomplishments: seeing Oregon out of a recession, reforming the public employee retirement system and creating thousands of construction jobs through a transportation program.

"Some things I have not done well," the 65-year-old governor said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I should have told the public on a more regular basis about the things I have been doing."
Why are Democrats pissed at him? The Globe continues:
"Ted is in trouble because, to a large extent, he has taken a low profile and he has lowered people's expectations about what they are going to get from him," says Russ Dondero, who teaches political science at Pacific University in Forest Grove.

Public employee labor unions haven't endorsed Kulongoski, a rarity for a Democrat; they don't like that he reduced benefits for their ranks through his push for reform of their retirement system.

Kulongoski upset conservationists -- normally Democratic allies -- by backing a proposed tribal casino in the scenic Columbia River Gorge.

Education supporters complain that he should more vigorously pursue extra money for schools. Health care advocates say he didn't do enough to prevent thousands of low-income people from being cut from the Oregon Health Plan.

Some staffers within Oregon's Democratic congressional delegation have privately expressed concern about what they see as Kulongoski's lackluster campaign, wondering when he's going to start energizing the party base.
Today's piece in WaPo is only mildly better:
After initially pledging to save his money for the general election, Kulongoski has now taken to the airwaves bashing Hill as in the pocket of tribal casino interests -- a sure sign that the race is closer than the incumbent initially expected.

"Barring a miracle, the governor's showing for an incumbent governor is going to be pretty anemic," Hibbitts said. "But the two top Republicans have busted each other up. It's going to be hard to stitch the [GOP] back together."
OK, the last line from Hibbitts is a nod to reality--as long as Ted wins the primary, he has plenty of time, backing and money to gear up again starting tomorrow. There isn't a whole lot else in these articles that Oregonians haven't seen multiple times already, but it's interesting that two outlets in two days have decided to focus on a race 3,000 miles away. Almost makes you wonder if it wasn't a coordinated effort by somebody...