SALEM, Ore. (AP) - While U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio and former Gov. John Kitzhaber have not yet said whether they will run in the 2010 Oregon governor's race, two lesser-known politicians are trying to get a head start.
Republican Allen Alley, a former businessman who ran for state treasurer last year, sets out Monday on a 400-mile walk across Oregon to publicize his quest for the state's top office.
"It's an opportunity to spend quality time with people," Alley said of his planned walk from Baker City to Portland, a journey he expects will take him about 40 days.
And Brian Clem, a Democratic state representative from Salem, this weekend is going on a "listening tour" in Southern Oregon as he considers a run.
"I've got less than 1 percent name I.D. Nobody knows me. I've got to start campaigning right now," Clem said Friday.
At this point most of the speculation is swirling around whether the race will include either Kitzhaber or DeFazio, two of Oregon's best-known Democrats.
DeFazio, the veteran congressman from southwest Oregon's 4th District, is said to be seriously considering foregoing all of the seniority he's built up in Congress for a run for governor.
DeFazio will be home in Springfield for the month of August as Congress goes on its annual summer recess, which will give him plenty of time to ponder making the jump.
"He will be definitely be giving it thought" in the coming weeks, said DeFazio spokewoman Penny Dodge. "He hopes to make a decision around Labor Day."
Kitzhaber, the popular former governor, is said to be on about the same timetable in terms of announcing whether he will seek an unprecedented third term.
Under Oregon law, governors are limited to two consecutive terms. So Kitzhaber, who served two terms and then was succeeded by Democrat Ted Kulongoski, has the right to run again in 2010.
Political analyst Jim Moore said that if neither DeFazio nor Kitzhaber runs, that could position former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury as a potential frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.
"Bradbury is getting his ducks in a row, getting things ready to go just in case. But if Kitzhaber is in, I don't think Bradbury will run," said Moore, who teaches political science at Pacific University in Forest Grove.
Moore takes that view because of the close friendship and political ties that Bradbury and Kitzhaber have shared over the years.
A spokesman for Bradbury says, though, that it's possible the former secretary of state might announce plans to run even before Kitzhaber announces his own decision. Further, it's possible Bradbury would stay in the Democratic race even if Kitzhaber gets it, Jim Ross said.
"There won't be any one issue that will drive that," Ross said. "Bill will look at the entire complexion of the race before making his decision."
On the Republican side, Alley is the only announced candidate for governor at this point.
But that could change soon when state Sen. Jason Atkinson of Central Point announces his expected plans to run for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.
This past week marked the the one-year anniversary of an accidental shooting that nearly killed the southern Oregon lawmaker and severely damaged his leg. Atkinson has said he wanted to get past that anniversary before making any announcement about a political race.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)