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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Richardson, Kitzhaber Clash In Final Debate

campaign photos

Some Oregon voters have already cast their ballot, but the leading candidates for governor managed to squeeze in one last debate Monday night. ??

Incumbent Democrat John Kitzhaber and Republican challenger Dennis Richardson faced off on Medford television station KOBI.

Richardson had home-field advantage in the only southern Oregon gubernatorial debate this year. The long-time state lawmaker once again tried to paint Kitzhaber as playing fast and loose with state ethics laws. He said the governor looked the other way while his fiancée scored lucrative consulting contracts with companies that Richardson said wanted to influence state policy.

"Governor, that's not okay,” Richardson said. “That's corruption."

Richardson also brought up a 20-year-old newspaper article about Kitzhaber taking money for speaking engagements while he was a state lawmaker. Kitzhaber said he had done nothing wrong and implied it was a desperation move by Richardson's campaign.

"It raises very serious questions in my mind what they actually have to offer Oregon except for the fact that they're not me,” Kitzhaber said. “And I don't think that that quite cuts it in this state."

Kitzhaber is seeking an unprecedented fourth term as Oregon governor. He's maintained a wide lead over Richardson in both fundraising and in the polls.