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  Former Oregon governor ponders running for old job
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Last Editedkarin1492  May 29, 2009 11:10pm
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MediaNewspaper - Oregonian, The (Portland)
News DateSaturday, May 30, 2009 05:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionThe once and future governor?

Former Gov. John Kitzhaber's official portrait was unveiled Wednesday evening in the Capitol, but the denim-clad Democrat may not be ready to fade into history books.

Kitzhaber confirmed in an interview after the unveiling that he is seriously considering a run for governor next year, and some political insiders predict the famously enigmatic politician will indeed jump into what is now a wide-open race.

The former governor told reporters after the unveiling that he is "thinking through the possibility of what it would look like" to return to the Capitol. He said he may talk about his political future Friday, when he speaks at a City Club of Portland luncheon.

The new portrait by Portland artist Henk Pander portrays Kitzhaber in a relaxed pose with his medical kit at his feet -- he was an emergency room physician -- and the Rogue River in the background.

Pander also painted a famous portrait of former Gov. Tom McCall, the last person who tried to return to the Oregon governorship after serving two terms. McCall sat out a term, as required by the state constitution, and tried to make a comeback in 1978, only to be defeated in the Republican primary.

Kitzhaber, 62, has been quietly meeting with several key political figures to talk about a possible comeback. Some questioned his intentions after he had weighed -- then rejected -- a run for the U.S. Senate and a run for governor against fellow Democrat Ted Kulongoski in 2006.

"I think that John's state of mind is much better than it was eight years ago," says Portland consultant Steve Novick, who Kitzhaber endorsed in his unsuccessful race for the U.S. Senate last year.

"He seems more relaxed, more friendly, more playful -- and in politics, that matters," adds Novick, who has toyed with the idea of running for governor himself. But he won't get in the race if Kitzhaber runs.
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