If Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D is forced to resign from office, which seems increasingly likely, Oregon has no lieutenant governor and it would be up to Secretary of State Kate Brown (D) to serve out the remainder of the governor’s term.
It was of great interest, then, when Kitzhaber asked Brown on Tuesday to return to Oregon from D.C., where she was attending a conference. The Secretary of State told The Oregonian this morning that the governor urged her to return “as soon as possible,” which seemed to at least raise the possibility of the governor’s resignation. Brown explained:
“I got on a plane yesterday morning and arrived at 3:40 in the afternoon. I was escorted directly into a meeting with the Governor. It was a brief meeting. He asked me why I came back early from Washington, DC, which I found strange. I asked him what he wanted to talk about. The Governor told me he was not resigning, after which, he began a discussion about transition.“This is clearly a bizarre and unprecedented situation.”
That assessment seems more than fair under the circumstances. Local reports indicate that the embattled Democratic governor, re-elected a few months ago to an unprecedented fourth term, “decided to resign Tuesday but then changed his mind.”
As of this afternoon, it seems the governor may not have much of a choice about his future. Just a few hours ago, the state Senate president and House Majority Leader – both Democrats – met with Kitzhaber and “told him it was time to resign.”
Around the same time, Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler also called on the governor to step down, describing the current situation as “untenable.”
A longtime ally of the governor, state Sen. Rod Monroe (D), sounded as if Kitzhaber’s tenure was nearly over.
“I’ve known John Kitzhaber longer than anyone else in the building,” he said. “This is a sad day for Oregon.”When asked whether he thought Kitzhaber would resign today, he responded, “I think so. Probably.”
I’ll concede I’m not overly familiar with the intricacies of politics in Oregon’s capitol, but as a rule, when a governor has run out of allies, and a scandal has rocked public confidence in the governor’s abilities, a resignation becomes inevitable.