I am announcing today that I will resign as Governor of the State of Oregon.
It is not in my nature to walk away from a job I have undertaken – it is to stand and fight for the cause. For that reason I apologize to all those people who gave of their faith, time, energy and resources to elect me to a fourth term last year and who have supported me over the past three decades. I promise you that I will continue to pursue our shared goals and our common cause in another venue.
I must also say that it is deeply troubling to me to realize that we have come to a place in the history of this great state of ours where a person can be charged, tried, convicted and sentenced by the media with no due process and no independent verification of the allegations involved. But even more troubling – and on a very personal level as someone who has given 35 years of public service to Oregon – is that so many of my former allies in common cause have been willing to simply accept this judgment at its face value.
It is something that is hard for me to comprehend – something we might expect in Washington, D.C. but surely not in Oregon. I do not know what it means for our shared future but I do know that it is seriously undermining civic engagement in this state and the quality of the public discourse that once made Oregon stand out from the pack.
Nonetheless, I understand that I have become a liability to the very institutions and policies to which I have dedicated my career and, indeed, my entire adult life. As a former presiding officer I fully understand the reasons for which I have been asked to resign. I wish Speaker Kotek and President Courtney and their colleagues on both sides of the aisle success in this legislative session and beyond. And I hope that they are truly committed to carrying forward the spirit of bipartisanship and collaboration that has marked the last four years in Oregon.
Oregon's Secretary of State, Democrat Kate Brown, will succeed him in the office (Oregon has no Lt. Governor) and she will be the first bisexual governor in US history, but she's not without her political controversies either.
Brown will have almost two years to govern before facing voters for the right to fill out the rest of Kitzhaber’s term, but Republicans are already critical of her record and stumbles during her first term as secretary of state. She angered Republicans when she scheduled an election for state Labor Commissioner in November 2012, rather than in May.
Republicans said the decision was an overtly political act aimed at saving the Democratic nominee, Brad Avakian, who won. She fired several employees, including her chief of staff and the head of the state’s elections division, amid the criticism. Most major papers in the state endorsed her Republican opponent in 2012, though she won reelection in a favorable Democratic year.
Brown also took fire for a letter she sent to the Federal Communications Commission in support of Comcast’s bid to take over Time Warner. The tech Web site The Verge reported that Brown’s letter was drafted by a Comcast lobbyist after the company contributed nearly $10,000 to her secretary of state campaigns. Brown has refused to answer questions about the letter.
We'll see how soon-to-be Governor Brown fares. Meanwhile, if any political crisis consultants are looking for a new client to take on, I'd start in Salem..