Ted Kulongowski (Democrat)
Raised in an orphanage after his parents died in an accident
Served in the Marine Corps
Former truck driver
Started law firm in Eugene
Has served in every branch of Oregon government: executive, judicial and legislative
Kevin Mannix (Republican)
Practicing lawyer for 28 years
Was U.S. attorney in Guam
A decade in the Oregon Legislature, passed more legislation than any other lawmaker
Former democrat, now republican
Private law practice in Salem
K:Has hinted for a “special funding source” for Oregon schools; is expected to support tax increases and believes a sales tax should not be completely ruled out. He has, in the past, blamed funding crises on inefficient administrators.
M: Publicly stated that increased higher-education funding is necessary for a strong business community, but opposed to any tax increases. Wants to make present school-reform plans optional. Expanding university and college programs is high priority.
K:Kulongowski focuses on sustainability and opposes President Bush’s forest policy as presently proposed. As an avid outdoorsman, emphasis on recreation, preservation, and public access to forests and natural recreation areas. Opposes dumping of radioactive waste in Oregon. Believes criminal penalties for polluters are best deterrent. Endorsed by the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters.
M:Mannix believes that a balance of jobs and recreation can be achieved. He wants to deepen Columbia River channel for more deep-water shipping and increased port use. Also believes logging is a valuable resource and important employment base. Proposes cut in agriculture regulation by 50 percent. Believes government should partner with business for the least costly and most effective environmental regulation. Wants productive use of environment.
K:Will most likely follow in Kitzhaber’s bootsteps by resisting federal intervention in assisted-suicide provisions and rebuffing incursions in the medical-marijuana program by invoking the “will of the voters.” Less clear is an opinion about the state’s relationship with the Terrorism Task Force and federal investigations of state citizens.
M:Strong supporter of Bush and his domestic anti-terrorism polices. Less clear are Mannix’s views on federal attempts to overturn assisted suicide and medical marijuana laws.
K:Kulongowski is an outspoken supporter of the right to choose reproductive options, including abortion. Endorsed by the National Organization for Women and Planned Parenthood. Delivered an address to National Abortion Rights Action League where he declared,” I have always been for a woman’s right to choose. And I always will be.”
M:Campaigned heavily in the primary on his pro-life and social conservative agenda. Drew criticism from democrats and kudos from election pundits for sharply steering away from the issue in the general campaign. Endorsed by Oregon Right to Life.
The election is going to be distilled into economic terms. With massive budget shortfalls, the highest unemployment in the nation and an education-funding crisis, the bread and butter issues will be on voters’ minds as they fill in the dots. Those dots will connect to the candidate that voters believe will deliver immediate and lasting relief.
Word on the street
K:Slipping in the polls, Kulongowski has been hit hard by accusations of weak campaigning, not only by the Mannix camp but by such supposed allies as center-left liberal rag Willamette Week. His line on raising taxes seems to have not scared Oregonians away, though, as they realize that something has to be done about the fiscal mess in Salem. Strengths: lengthy and impressive endorsements, balanced experience, and social stances that mirror urban and suburban Oregon.
M:Trailing throughout much of the campaign, the last few days has seen the tide of voter sentiment turning his way. His campaign has successfully deflected criticism about his stances on abortion, gays and other social issues. He has focused on “holding the line on taxes,” which undoubtedly appeals to the average rural and outer-suburban voter. His promises, however, seem shallow when compared to the fiscal situation in the state. How will he pay for his agenda without raising taxes? In his words: by slashing bloated regulation and using the resources that Oregon is endowed with to create new jobs. Savvy campaign has him appealing directly to women voters with his impressive legislative record on anti-stalking and child support provisions. Strengths: smart campaign, underdog appeal and strong backing from rural republicans.