At a press conference yesterday the former two-term Democratic governor announced he's picked up a slew of endorsements from prominent state Democrats, including Treasury Secretary Ben Westlund, Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo and Attorney General John Kroger as well as 17 of the 54 Democratic state legislators, including Bend's Judy Steigler. (The Oregonian's Jeff Mapes has posted a full list of the endorsers here).
With all those Democrats jumping aboard Dr. K's third-term bandwagon, former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury - who officially announced this morning - faces an uphill struggle against Kitzhaber in the primary.
Trying to stay upbeat, Bradbury told supporters, "This will be a campaign not won with millions of dollars in television ads, but in discussions in living rooms and union halls and neighborhoods across this state."
Still, those millions of dollars won't hurt.
The surge of supporters toward Kitzhaber also seems likely to discourage Rep. Peter DeFazio - regarded as the only Democrat besides Bradbury with a chance of knocking off Kitzhaber - from making a run. DeFazio and Kitzhaber held a private meeting last Friday, but the congressman still hasn't announced if he'll mount a challenge.
Meanwhile, Kitzhaber holds a commanding lead against the only two announced Republican contenders - businessman Allen Alley and state Rep. Jason Atkinson - according to a poll done for the Portland Tribune. Kitzhaber is ahead of Atkinson 43% to 23%, and leads Alley by 46% to 21%.