6 foot 11, former center for the Portland Trailblazers, Chris Dudley, has entered the race for governor of Oregon, running as a Republican. Despite the huge celebrity status of players with the Portland Trailblazers, this marks the first time that any player from the team has ever sought elective office.
Dudley has always been a popular figure with fans in the state, with a squeaky-clean reputation. And his charitable work for children with diabetes has made him a sentimental favorite as well. Dudley has long suffered from this disease as well.
What might give Dudley some hope this year is the uneven nature of the slowly building economic recovery. While some retailers are reporting sharply increased and building retail sales as are many wholesalers, unemployment still lags in the state for many workers. Wisely, Dudley's campaign focuses mostly on economic issues and avoids many social issues that can cause trouble for more conservative politicians among the more socially liberal Oregon voters. But, Dudley straddles the abortion issue, probably not really pleasing anyone. However, in a year when Republicans have been able to win unlikely victories such as in Massachusetts, Dudley could be a wildcard.
The democrats are running two old retreaded politicians, former Governor John Kitzhaber and Secretary Of State Bill Bradbury. Both have some vulnerabilities and some political baggage issues with many voters.
Dudley was able to escape any of the bad image problems associated with old Trailblazers image of the past. And while a hard working center, Dudley was hardly a great center by any means. One of the greatest vulnerabilities of the old Trailblazers has always been weakness in the center position ever since the glory days of Bill Walton. However, in a year that voters might be sick of many politicians, Dudley might appear fresh enough to many voters to have an opportunity to surprise. And if you don't think so, just ask a former Wrestler by the name of Jesse Ventura or an actor by the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger.