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Kitzhaber, GOP rival may meet 5 times

Richardson responds in principle to governor's proposal


The debate about debates has begun.

But it appears Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber and Republican rival Dennis Richardson will make several joint campaign appearances across the state.

Kitzhaber's campaign manager, Mike Marshall, made the offer Thursday in a letter to Richardson's manager, Charlie Pearce. Pearce has accepted in principle on behalf of Richardson.

The Kitzhaber campaign proposal outlines five forums, although the candidates have not yet agreed on dates, times and places:

— Portland, sponsored by television station KGW and The Oregonian.

— Portland City Club, sponsored by Oregon Public Broadcasting.

— Eugene, sponsored by the League of Oregon Cities, which plans its annual conference Sept. 25-27.

— Medford, sponsored by television station KOBI and the Mail Tribune.

— Bend, sponsored by the Oregon Association of Broadcasters, which plans its annual conference Sept. 25-27 in Sunriver.

"We believe our proposal represents a good cross-section of media markets, ensuring that voters can make an informed decision in November," Marshall's letter says. "It will also allow a diverse group of voters to question the candidates on a range of topics that are important to them."

Pearce's reply:

"Rep. Richardson puts a high value on open and honest political dialogue, and he is looking forward to engaging the governor in debate about the issues that matter most to Oregonians."

In the past three decades, the number of joint appearances by the major-party candidates for governor during a campaign has ranged from just one — Kitzhaber and Republican Chris Dudley in 2010 — to about a dozen in 1986.

Democrat Ted Kulongoski and Republican Kevin Mannix met eight times in 2002, when Kulongoski won the open-seat race.

In 2010, Kitzhaber and Dudley appeared on a public platform only once at a televised debate sponsored by KGW and The Oregonian. They appeared together at editorial board meetings at Willamette Week and the Statesman Journal in Salem. They answered common questions furnished in advance of the League of Oregon Cities conference in Eugene, but there was no interchange between them.

Kitzhaber, who is seeking a fourth nonconsecutive term, and Richardson, a five-term state representative from Central Point, made their first joint appearance July 18 at the summer meeting of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association in Salem. A panel of journalists asked them common questions.

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Adds comment from Richardson's campaign manager about apparent agreement for joint appearances.