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All about John

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John Kitzhaber is a medical man — once an emergency medicine physician — and yet a man who has devoted most of his working life to politics in the United States. Doctor changed to Governor when he won office in Oregon in 1995, after one term in the lower house and three successive terms as a state senator.

I have known John Kitzhaber for about 20 years, and hearing that he had decided to run for an unprecedented fourth term as Governor, I decided to visit Oregon before the election and sample opinion. I wondered whether training as a doctor had given him a magic touch that assured him automatic re-election.

As I went around the countryside, I met another John — son of a Danish immigrant. He did not think much of Governor Kitzhaber. In this John’s view, living with a woman unmarried flew in the face of Bible teaching. I gently reminded him that the Governor and his partner were engaged to be married. He went on to say that Kitzhaber had been in office far too long; however, Wayne Morse was his hero. Morse epitomised that Oregon independence which had seen him elected successively as a Republican, Independent and Democrat United States senator over 24 years. Kitzhaber was so far only striving for 16 as Governor. I bit my tongue.

Oregonians have an idiosyncratic streak. On becoming the 33rd State of the Union in 1859, they rejected the blandishments of both the North and the South to join the Civil…