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Running for governor is too much like exercise


You have to possess a certain, I don’t know, a certain je ne sais pas to want to enter politics.

Some would say that it’s a combination of wanting to enrich the human condition, an altruistic streak that puts the benefits of others above those of your own, and just the right balance of hubris and humility to believe that your goals are those most likely to achieve the common good.

Others would opine that the true formula is a desire to exercise power, a willing blindness to the needs of the people — particularly if you can profit from stepping on their heads — and a shark-like, unblinking vision toward feeding the beast of ego.

Me? I think you gotta be cray-cray.

Reading news reports this week about the uneasy heads that wear the crown of governorship in Oregon and California just re-enforced my belief that anyone who has their act together enough to want the job likely is also adept enough to avoid the trap.

Our neighbors to the south will go to the polls in mid-September to decide whether to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose own campaign apparatus sputtered by missing a deadline to have the governor’s Democratic Party affiliation listed on the ballot.

Then again, if voters can’t recall that Newsom is a Democrat then his chances of having them remember support him in September might be in deeper doo-doo than his backers think.

Meanwhile, there are more than 40 challengers ready to take his place and, despite this being California, some of them are even politicians.

That field pales in comparison to the more than 100 who competed in the state’s previous reality show, which terminated with Arnold Schwarzenegger not only being elected to serve in Sacramento … but actually having to go there.

Here at home, where Gov. Kate Brown is term-limited from running again — not that she’d want to after years of criticism over the state’s response to the wildfires, the pandemic, the national attention to the upheaval in Portland and a loyal opposition in the Legislature that has lived by the axiom that “when the going gets tough, stage a walkout” — contenders are beginning to line up like would-be contestants on a televised singing competition.

Along with the standard assortment of professional politicians — whose interest in higher office is easy to gauge by how active their flacks are in sending out “news” releases citing opinions over issues large and small — a wild card candidate has surfaced.

New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who grew up on a sheep-and-cherry farm in Yamhill, is reportedly weighing a bid for the Democratic nomination.

Lord knows that many of those who’ve spent their careers in the newspaper industry have been seeking out creative exit strategies recently … but to abandon a life of shining a light on society’s ills for a chance to ride herd in Salem (not to mention the possible secession of half the state to Idaho) is a bit extreme — especially when you can make up to $15 an hour wrangling shopping carts or churning out Happy Meals.

Special orders won’t upset you in the fast-food industry half as much as they will when you have to deal with the demands of politicians and the public.

On the other hand, some might consider the transition from journalism into a field where only 40 percent of those paying attention will trash your good name might be a boost to the id.

I say this with the benefit of experience from the twin campaigns for office which I undertook in the cray-cray days of my youth.

Given my own combination of altruism, sadomasochism and humble hubris, I figured I was a natural choice for the vice presidency … of both my high school senior class and church group.

The political strategery I emploed was the same in both races: I would promise to sit there attentively, nod at the appropriate moments, and keep my mouth shut. If that wasn’t worthy being verified as a bucket of warm spit, I didn’t know what would.

I lost both races, one of them by a single vote — which led to a year of viewing everyone around me with suspicion as I plotted revenge against the swing voter who could have given me a smidgen of self-esteem.

Maybe I was cut out for politics after all.

Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin loses unanimous votes at rgalvin@roseburgmedia.com by split decisions.