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Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials arrow Dudley's mistake

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Dudley's mistake


You could almost believe, from the rash of publicity in the past week, that Chris Dudley left a prospective bride standing at the altar.

Actually, Dudley, the Republican candidate for Oregon governor, missed one debate.

A debate he never promised to attend.

A debate which, had it taken place, would have happened three and a half months before Oregon voters will choose between Dudley and Democrat John Kitzhaber.

Also, the public wasn’t invited. And the debate wouldn’t have been televised.

As political scandals go, we could scarcely conceive of one that’s less, well, scandalous.

Which isn’t to say Dudley didn’t commit a blunder.

He did.

But his gaffe was not that he decided to forego the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Convention’s annual convention on July 16.

Dudley’s faux pas, rather, is that his initial explanation for his absence — that he had long ago scheduled a vacation with his family in Aspen, Colo. — though demonstrably true, was not the whole truth.

And lies, even lies of omission, are rarely a politician’s friend.

Dudley also attended a meeting of the Republican Governors Association while he was relaxing in the Rockies — an event the candidate had known about and planned to participate in.

As Dudley’s spokesman, LeRoy Coleman, said, “that should have been better articulated.”

Coleman’s statement could stand some clarification, too.

“We blew it,” is what he should have said.

Dudley, who spoke at the Colorado meeting, saying among other things that Oregon’s capital gains tax rate is too high, should be making that pitch in Oregon.

You know, where the people live who can actually elect him.

The political clumsiness of Dudley’s decision aside, though, we’re a bit perplexed by the figurative hand-wringing that Dudley’s absence from the convention prompted.

Consider that one of the main criticisms of Dudley is that he lacks experience.

Yet now he’s being maligned for attending an event where there are actual governors.

Flimsier still is the implication, posited in some newspaper editorials and on blogs, that Dudley, by flouting the tradition of the ONPA convention being the site of the gubernatorial race’s first debate, was thumbing his nose not merely at a bunch of media executives but at the entire electorate.

This is silly.

Rest assured that Kitzhaber and Dudley will debate before Nov. 2 — almost certainly multiple times.

And most of those events are apt to be more accessible to the average voter than is the ONPA convention, which isn’t exactly a town hall meeting.

The real issue here is whether Oregon voters will have a chance to learn enough about Kitzhaber and Dudley so that they can make a reasoned choice when they fill in the little circle on their ballot.

We’re confident that voters — without needing to travel to Colorado — will hear plenty from both candidates before ballots arrive in the mail.

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