Ted Kulongoski

Ted Kulongoski

Theodore R. "Ted" Kulongoski ( , born November 5, 1940) is an American politician, who served as the 36th Governor of Oregon. A Democrat, he has served in both houses of the Oregon Legislative Assembly, as the state Insurance Commissioner, the Attorney General, and an Associate Justice on the Oregon Supreme Court.


Early life and career

Kulongoski was born in St. Louis Missouri in 1940.[1] He was 4 years old when his father died, and spent the rest of his childhood in a Catholic boys' home. After high school, Kulongoski served in the Marines. With the help of the G.I. Bill, he obtained an undergraduate and law degree from the University of Missouri.[2][when?]

Kulongoski then moved to Eugene, Oregon and became a labor lawyer.[1]

Early political career

In 1974, Kulongoski was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives and, in 1978, to the Oregon State Senate. In Oregon's 1980 United States Senate election, he ran an unsuccessful race against Republican Bob Packwood. In 1982, he made his first bid for governor;[3] he was defeated by Republican incumbent Victor G. Atiyeh.[2]

At the 1980 Democratic National Convention then-State Senator and U.S. Senate nominee Kulongoski received 8 (0.24%) delegate votes for Vice President of the United States. Kulongoski was not a candidate and incumbent Walter Mondale was easily renominated.[4]

In 1987, Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt appointed Kulongoski to the post of state insurance commissioner. In that role, Kulongoski reformed the state's workers' compensation insurance system, a move that is widely credited for lowering costs to business.

1992 and 1996 elections

In 1992, Kulongoski was elected as Oregon Attorney General, defeating Republican Rich Rodeman.[5][6] As Attorney General, he focused on reforming the juvenile justice system.[2] In 1996, Kulongoski decided against running for re-election as Attorney General, and instead successfully ran for the Oregon Supreme Court.[7] He resigned from the court in 2001 to run for governor.

2002 gubernatorial election

After winning the Democratic party nomination in the 2002 race for governor, Kulongoski's opponent was Republican Kevin Mannix. Kulongoski ran a low-key campaign, emphasizing his reputation as a consensus-builder and problem solver. His television commercials featured such feel-good scenes as the candidate bowling. He argued for a pragmatic approach to solving the state's budget crisis and recession, a marked departure from the more confrontational style of outgoing governor (and fellow Democrat) John Kitzhaber. Mannix argued that the Democratic Party had held the governorship in Oregon too long, and pledged to reduce government spending without cutting vital services. Many of Kulongoski's supporters were disappointed with his campaign, feeling he did not adequately respond to Mannix's challenge. Kulongoski narrowly won the election, winning 618,004 votes (49%), with 581,785 votes (46%) going to Mannix, and 57,760 votes (5%) going to Libertarian candidate Tom Cox.[8][dead link]

Kulongoski took office January 13, 2003.[9] He inherited a state facing a massive budget deficit and high unemployment. Furthermore, he faced the task of dealing with problems with the public employees' pension system without angering the labor unions that backed his campaign. As Governor, he is a member of the National Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association.

2006 gubernatorial election

On December 1, 2005 the Eugene Register-Guard reported that former Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber was considering challenging Kulongoski in the Democratic primary.[10] But one month later, Kitzhaber announced he would not do so, as did another potential Democratic rival, State Senator Vicki Walker. This left Governor Kulongoski with two challengers: Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson, and former State treasurer Jim Hill, both of whom accused Kulongoski of betraying Democratic Party principles. Stated Hill, "From my standpoint, [the Democratic Party primary debate] is a good opportunity to show what a horrible Democrat Ted has been". The Service Employees International Union Local 503[11] endorsed Jim Hill, and the Multnomah County Democratic Central Committee[12] decided to endorse Kulongoski's rivals but not him at a February 19, 2006 meeting.

Some other interest groups also indicated unhappiness with Kulongoski. Palestinian supporters from Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights[13] questioned Kulongoski's connections to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, after the governor was quoted as saying that "support for AIPAC is an article of faith for both political parties." And in April 2006, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde started running advertisements for Jim Hill over Ted Kulongoski, due to the Governor's decision allowing a rival tribe, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs to build a casino in Cascade Locks. Hill attacked Kulongoski stating, "Let's be real clear: Once again, Ted lied". Kulongoski denied the accusation, stating that he endorsed the Cascade Locks site only to prevent the Warm Springs tribe from building on tribal land near Hood River, in the scenic Columbia River Gorge, which by law they are allowed to do.

On May 16, 2006, Kulongoski won the Democratic primary with 54% of the vote. Jim Hill finished second with 25%, Pete Sorenson third with 16% of the vote.

Kulongoski faced multiple opponents in the general election: Republican Party candidate Ron Saxton, Constitution Party candidate Mary Starrett, Libertarian Party candidate Richard Morley, and Pacific Green Party candidate Joe Keating. Former Republican Ben Westlund planned on running as independent, but on August 10, 2006 withdrew from the race, stating that "I made a commitment to the people of Oregon that I was in it to win it and that I absolutely would not play a spoiler role".

On November 7, 2006, Kulongoski won a second term, 51% to 43% over Ron Saxton.[14]

Second term

In February 2007, Kulongoski and State Senator Brad Avakian worked to clarify that Oregon recognizes no position of "state climatologist" in response to the use of that title by Oregon State University professor George Taylor, who believes that human activities are not the main cause of global climate change.[15] Kulongoski said the state needs a consistent message on reducing greenhouse gases to combat climate change.[16]

Beginning the week of April 24, 2007, Kulongoski gained national attention[17] when he joined a campaign, known as the food stamp challenge, that portrays the difficulty living on the average weekly food stamp allotment of $21.[18]

Kulongski announced May 8, 2007 that Oregon will join the Climate Registry to track dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.[19]

Kulongoski signed two GLBT rights bills into law: a domestic partnership bill and an anti-discrimination bill at a ceremony May 9, 2007.[20]

On June 22, 2007, Kulongoski made a friendly political wager with North Carolina Governor Mike Easley that: {| style="margin:auto; border-collapse:collapse; border-style:none; background-color:transparent; width:auto; " class="cquote" | width="20" valign="top" style="color:#B2B7F2;font-size:35px;font-family:'Times New Roman',serif;font-weight:bold;text-align:left;padding:10px 10px;" | “ | valign="top" style="padding:4px 10px;" | Insert the text of the quote here, without quotation marks. | width="20" valign="bottom" style="color:#B2B7F2;font-size:35px;font-family:'Times New Roman',serif;font-weight:bold;text-align:right;padding:10px 10px;" | ” |-


In May 2010, Kulongoski suffered a vitreous hemorrhage in the eye due to fragile, abnormal blood vessels that have grown in the retina of the eye. According to Kulongoski spokeswoman Anna Richter Taylor, the governor is scheduled for outpatient surgery at Oregon Health & Science University on June 30, 2010 to surgically remove the vitreous gel from the middle of the eye so full vision can be restored.[21]

In September 2010, Kulongoski was one of seven governors to receive a grade of F in the Cato Institute's fiscal-policy report card.[22]

Electoral history

Oregon Gubernatorial Election 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Ted Kulongoski 601,348 49.0
Kevin Mannix 567,911 46.2
Tom Cox 56,141 5.2
Oregon Gubernatorial Election 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Ted Kulongoski (Incumbent) 698,562 50.8 +1.8
Ron Saxton 588,155 42.7
Mary Starrett 50,103 3.6


  1. a b Governor Ted Kulongoski About Governor Kulongoski
  2. a b c Fogarty, Colin (May 3, 2002). . OPB Radio News. http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/opb/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=346244. Retrieved 2007-01-20. 
  3. Steves, David (June 18, 2001). . The Register Guard. http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-8346549_ITM. 
  4. . The Register-Guard. August 15, 1980. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=dIQRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=5-EDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6867,4424288. Retrieved March 23, 2010. 
  5. http://www.polidata.us/pub/reports/41000vhc.pdf
  6. Oregon Blue Book: Attorneys General of Oregon
  7. Official Results, Supreme Court - 5/21/96 Biennial Primary
  8. http://www.sos.state.or.us/elections/nov52002/abstract/gov.pdf2002
  9. http://www.governor.state.or.us/speech_011303.htm[dead link]
  10. Steves, David (December 1, 2005). . The Register-Guard. 
  11. SEIU 503
  12. welcome | Multnomah County Democratic Party
  13. Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights
  14. http://egov.sos.state.or.us/division/elections/results/2006_G100_401.htm
  15. HinesSight: Facts about George Taylor and the “state climatologist”
  16. Global warming debate spurs Ore. title tiff
  17. Yardley, William (May 1, 2007). . The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/01/us/01stamps.html. Retrieved 2007-05-05. 
  18. Wong, Peter (April 25, 2007). . Statesman Journal. http://www.statesmanjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070425/LEGISLATURE/704250318&GID=zqAKJogECXe8dYOrXCXgrL5jJgL9S/81cH+ZFYptFyo%3D. Retrieved 2007-04-25.  [dead link]
  19. Governor Ted Kulongoski Press Release
  20. Basic Rights Oregon » Blog Archive » Kulongoski Signs Domestic Partnerships and Anti-Discrimination
  21. AP. "Ore. governor to have eye surgery." The Columbian. The Columbian, 23 June 2010. Web. 24 June 2010. <http://www.columbian.com/news/2010/jun/23/ore-governor-to-have-eye-surgery/>.
  22. http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/248383/hows-your-governor-doing-taxes-and-spending-veronique-de-rugy