Metsger backs away from governor race

November 23, 2005

Oregon Sen. Rick Metsger has decided not to enter the gubernatorial race after all.

For the past several months, Metsger, D-Welches, has been exploring a candidacy against incumbent Gov. Ted Kulongoski. However, he has come to the conclusion that education and health care reforms can be more effectively driven from his current office. So, Metsger has decided to re-file for election to the District 26 seat that he has held since 1998.

“It is time we stop talking about providing our children with the finest education possible and start delivering on that promise,” he said.

He was considering a run at the top state office out of concerns that a “lack of leadership” was evidenced on issues related to education and health care. But, Metsger said, recent meetings with Democratic officials have helped him feel more optimistic about the future direction of the party.

He wants the Oregon Legislature to stabilize school funding and extend health care coverage to more of the state’s 10,000 uninsured citizens.

“In the months ahead I will work with interested colleagues and the governor to develop specific plans of action to move Oregon forward and fulfill our obligation to our children,” said Metsger.

He believes that his political background aptly demonstrates his ability to get things done. In 2003, Metsger co-authored and helped push through a $2.5 billion package to repair Oregon’s aging bridge network. It was the state’s largest investment in transportation infrastructure since the building of the interstate highway system in the 1950s.

In 2005, as chair of the Senate Committee on Business and Economic Development, Metsger co-authored Senate Bill 2048 to help utility ratepayers save millions. That legislation closed the gap between the amount energy companies charged customers and funds actually sent to local, state and federal governments. Metsger predicted that monthly utility bills could fall by as much as 8 percent for clients of large companies, such as Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp.

He believes that a proven ability to bring stakeholders together will stand him in good stead for the mission ahead. Metsger is looking forward to facilitating action on education and health care needs.

He currently sits on the Willamette River Cleanup Authority, the state Debt Policy Advisory Committee and the state Interoperability Executive Council. He has also served as a member of the Revenue Committee and Human Services Committee.

Metsger holds a bachelor’s degree in communication and master’s in teaching, both from Lewis and Clark College. He gained notoriety between 1977-92 as an award-winning journalist for CBS affiliate KOIN-TV and KXL Radio in Portland. Since stepping down from the role as a reporter, he has specialized in public affairs consulting.

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