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Goldschmidt, 1990

Photographers and reporters crowd around the lectern Wednesday as Goldschmidt announces he will not seek re-election.

Stanford Smith, Democrat-Herald (File)

NOTE: The following article originally ran in the Thursday, Feb. 8, 1990, edition of the Corvallis Gazette-Times.

Area politicians expressed surprise, speculation and calculation at Gov. Neil Goldschmidt's announcement Wednesday that he would not seek re-election.

"It took me by surprise," said Sen. Cliff Trow, D-Corvallis. "It seemed to me that ... in the past months that he was laying the groundwork to run again."

Rep. Carolyn Oakley, R-Albany, was more critical.

"I'm not surprised in light of everything that is happening," she said, referring to the controversy over workers' compensation reform and Goldschmidt's weak showing in early polls. Resigning now preserves his options, she said.

"If he lost the governorship, that would be detrimental to his political future," said Oakley.

Rep. Liz VanLeeuwen, R-Halsey, was more harsh, attacking Goldschmidt's "taking credit for everything" leadership style.

"That's been one of the hardest things for me to stomach," she said.

Groups including the grass-seed and timber industries feel the governor used their dollars to get elected, then has "gone south" on his campaign promises, she said.

"Many of my constituents have said to me, 'I voted for him last time, but I'll never do that again.'"

Sen. John Brenneman, R-Newport, likewise was unsympathetic.

"I'm not surprised and I'm certainly not disappointed," he said, adding that the last session of the Legislature left him feeling "very discouraged."

"I didn't like the way things were headed, and I can't say I'm disappointed or surprised with the governor's decision," he said.

Brenneman said he has already started rallying support within his district or a successful campaign by Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer.

Frohnmayer is seeking the Republican nomination for governor.

Fellow Republicans Rep. John Schoon, R-Rickreal, and Red. Tony Van Vliet, R-Corvallis, took a less partisan view.

"I think it leaves a pretty good-sized void," Schoon said. "Goldschmidt was a very innovative and active individual who tried to do a lot. He brought a change of attitude to the state that was good and healthy."

"We've disagreed on the policy of some things," said Van Vliet. "I've never disagreed with him on the heart of things."

U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield expressed remorse, saying he and Goldschmidt had "enjoyed an extraordinary and unique political partnership over the years. I feel the loss, and I'm sure the people of Oregon will as well."

Van Vliet expressed sorrow at news the governor and his wife, Margie, would separate.

"You are in a fishbowl," he said of the governor's job, "and it takes terrible tolls on families."

However, VanLeeuwen said family concerns were a "smoke screen" for another factor — polls that show the governor trailing Frohnmayer, she said.

Frohnmayer can fill the void, said Schoon.

"He's someone similar (to Goldschmidt)," he said. "He has a good imagination and is not afraid to step up and do something that may not be popular."

As for who might take Goldschmidt's place on the Democratic ticket, VanLeeuwen mentioned Insurance and Finance director Ted Kulongoski or Secretary of State Barbara Roberts.

"Barbara Roberts has been running for governor since before she ran for secretary of state," she said.

Schoon said he admired Goldschmidt for launching his "Children's Agenda," a variety of programs intended to benefit society's youngest and often most at-rick members.

"Not many others would have had the courage to take that on," he said.

Although Goldschmidt was criticized for failing to solve the school-funding program, Schoon called his "safety net" good public policy. It ensures that schools don't close for lack of money, and it will "stand the state in good stead for many years to come."

A companion measure for the safety net would have updated tax bases for state schools. Although it failed at the polls last year, critics cannot say the governor did not try to solve the problem, Schoon said.

NOTE: Barbara Roberts succeeded Goldschmidt in 1991, becoming Oregon's first woman governor after defeating Dave Frohnmayer and independent candidate Al Mobley. She served for a single term, declining to seek reelection in 1994.

Gazette-Times reporters Rob Priewe and Michael Schmieman contributed to this story.


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