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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.

Oregon Governor Won't Debate Until September

Campaign photos
Incumbent Democratic Governor Kate Brown, left, and Republican challenger, Salem doctor Bud Pierce won't debate until after September 1.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said she won't debate her Republican challenger until September at the earliest. The incumbent Democrat's announcement Wednesday came days after she turned down an appearance at the traditional opening debate of the campaign season.

Despite being Oregon's governor, Brown has never been on a debate stage as a gubernatorial candidate. That's because she took the office last year when then-governor John Kitzhaber stepped down amid a criminal ethics investigation.

Brown turned down the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association debate in July. Her chief rival, Bud Pierce, accepted the invitation. Now Brown’s campaign said she'll take part in at least three televised debates, but not until September 1.

Pierce said that's just fine with him.

"Actually that works out great for me because as of September 1, I'm fully a campaigner and not a doctor and a campaigner, so that will be a great kick-off for me,” Pierce said. “So I think that's very exciting."

Pierce is an oncologist in Salem who has never run for office before.

Brown's announcement said that in addition to three regionally televised debates, she is willing to consider additional debates "on a case-by-case basis" depending on format, schedule availability, and it being hosted by a "neutral sponsoring organization."

While Brown won't be participating in any debates before September, her campaign will continue to hold fundraisers. The Democrat has money-raising events scheduled for July in Medford, Corvallis and Bend. Tickets for each of those events start at $125 apiece.