The impossible dream of former Portland Trailblazer Chris Dudley fell only short by a whisker of his bid to become Oregon’s governor last night. It was an incredible journey, for this unlikely candidate who must have felt personally crushed when he he went to bed with a lead on Tuesday night, only to find out that a mountain of late votes from Multnomah County took away the victory late the next day. At 6:30 on Wednesday, an obviously saddened Dudley made his concession speech. And I’m sure that even voters who voted for his opponent, former two term Governor John Kitzhaber, felt sorry for Dudley who was always a very popular member of the Blazers team, although he was hardly any scoring machine.
Dudley’s bid was one of the most unlikely political candidacies this year. He had no prior government experience or little experience background in the private sector either. And he was a legendary piss poor free thrower as well. He even set records for missed three throws. Yet, this unlikely candidate rode a wave of personal popularity to defeat a very substantial Republican candidate, Allen Alley, in the May primary. Alley clearly won the single televised debate with Dudley, yet Dudley was able to narrowly capture the Republican nomination.
Republican Party donors felt that they had a chance to capture the governorship in Oregon, despite the reality of a big Democratic voter edge, as well as running against a fairly popular former two-term Oregon governor with many years of legislative experience. Dudley ran a $15 million dollar campaign, which heavily used advocates to represent him. However, when Dudley himself had to represent himself in debates and in interviews, his lack of experience quickly became apparent. It was like a campaign in search of a candidate.
Riding a huge wave of personal popularity as a former Portland Trailblazer seemed to be one major unspoken message of this campaign. It was almost like a joke gone way too far, that a candidate who’s biggest asset was that he was a former fan favorite sports player, with little else going for him. And he nearly won the election. It was a bizarre phenomenon to watch.
At some point in time, voters in Oregon were likely to face at least one former Portland Trailblazer who might make a run for office. And Dudley came within one inch of the finish line. It had to be a heartbreaking loss. With a little more experience, and not just money behind him, Chris Dudley could have sealed the deal with Oregon voters.
It was an awesome ride for Dudley, who should be proud that went far farther than he ever should of, coming so close with such an unlikely effort. Dudley should be respected for the major effort he put up. His 11 month effort in this campaign was far greater than any game performance ever.