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Sources Say: Wheeler sums up ambitions

Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber has not said whether he intends to run for an unprecedented fourth term in 2014. But State Treasurer Ted Wheeler — a rising star in the Democratic Party — assumes Kitzhaber will seek re-election, and pledged his support during an interview last week with the Portland Tribune.

Wheeler’s own prospects for a future run for governor rose considerably last year. First, politically ambitious Attorney General John Kroger left his post before his term ended and became Reed College president. Then Secretary of State Kate Brown struggled to win re-election against a little-known GOP challenger, and failed to win endorsements from most of Oregon’s leading newspapers.

Brown’s setbacks and Kroger’s disappearing act would appear to make Wheeler the top guy on the Democrats’ political bench. But Wheeler is putting his money on Kitzhaber.

“I assume the governor runs for re-election, and when he does, he’ll have my support,” Wheeler told the Portland Tribune editorial board.

Though Kitzhaber is winning kudos for carving a nonpartisan approach in Salem, he risks losing public employee union support by pushing $800 million in cuts to public employee pensions. Those unions supported Jim Hill in the 2006 Democratic primary for governor against incumbent Ted Kulongoski, after Kulongoski led the charge for 2003 pension reforms.

Gun bill draws rapid fire from critics

Hours after state Rep. Mitch Greenlick introduced a gun control measure in the House last Friday, critics began taking shots at it.

They have pretty good aim.

Even Greenlick acknowledged early this week that his House Bill 3200 has little chance of passage this legislative session.

Greenlick, a Northwest Portland Democrat, said in an email to his constituents that he was subjected to “abusive and threatening” phone calls and emails from opponents of the bill shortly after he introduced HB 3200 on behalf of Ceasefire Oregon, which is pushing a ban on military-style weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines.

By Monday morning, Greenlick said the bill was unlikely to pass. After conservative talk radio host Lars Larson invited Greenlick on his show to discuss the bill, the state rep declined, saying the bill wasn’t going anywhere, at least not in its present form. “Let’s save our conversation for something real,” Greenlick told Larson.

What kind of gun control measure does Greenlick see making it through this session? “I am afraid nothing,” he says. “This kind of intimidation has everybody ‘gun shy.’ ”

Metro can check out, but it can never leave

After years of exploring various funding proposals, Metro is asking the 2013 legislative session for lottery funds to help pay the costs of building a 600-room headquarters hotel to support the Convention Center, which it owns and operates. But tourism officials have recently backed off a similar proposal in Charlotte, N.C.

As reported by the Charlotte Observer on Feb. 16, they are afraid it could harm existing hotels in their city, a fear also expressed by some downtown Portland hotel owners and managers.

A 1,000-room headquarters hotel has been proposed in Charlotte for many years. Like the one in Portland, it would require a public subsidy. But unlike the situation involving Metro, two developers are talking about building their own hotels in the area of that city’s convention center. One would be part of a mixed-use development; the other would be a free standing, 230-room Embassy Suites.