PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Gov. John Kitzhaber was re-elected to an unprecedented 4th term as Oregon’s chief executive.
Kitzhaber, 67, defeated his Republican challenger Dennis Richardson.
“It is an incredible honor to be elected to lead this state for the next four years,” said Kitzhaber in a victory speech.
“I am also keenly aware that I stand here tonight because Oregonians stuck with me under difficult circumstances,” he said. “I will not let you down.”
He promised to fight for equity, for the middle class, urban and rural Oregon, and thanked voters for “ris[ing] above the noise and distractions.”
The victory came despite revelations in October that the governor’s fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, broke federal law in 1997 — before she knew the governor — by marrying an Ethiopian man to help him get US citizenship.
Later revelations showed Hayes and another man bought property in Washington state to grow marijuana later that same year.
Hayes was not at his side as he delivered his victory speech.
“We have some healing to do, and that healing needs to start right now,” said Kitzhaber.
Dennis Richardson dances, refuses to concede
Once Kitzhaber’s victory was called by multiple political analysts and news outlets, Richardson gave a speech he said was “not a concession speech.”
Below is the full text of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s re-election speech, Nov. 4, 2014:
It is an incredible honor to have been elected to lead our great state over the next four years. And I want to express my deepest gratitude to the thousands of people who worked so hard and for so long to get us to this moment. I stand here tonight because of all those who gave their time, energy and resources to this effort. To all of you and to my campaign team, I say thank you.
I am also keenly aware that I stand here tonight because Oregonians stuck with me under difficult circumstances. I do not take that for granted, and I will not let you down. During this campaign you have risen above the noise and distractions and chosen to focus on the real challenges facing Oregon.
I get back to work tomorrow with a renewed sense of purpose and urgency to seize this historic moment and dedicate my fourth term to delivering on the goals and ideals we Oregonians share for our state.
No matter our party registration, no matter what we do for a living, no matter where we live – if we are honest with each other we all want the same things. We want to be able to meet our basic needs and those of our families. We all want the opportunity to strive to meet our full potential. We want hard work to be rewarded with a better life. And we all want to leave our children better off than we were.
My commitment to you this next four years is to fight for equity and opportunity for all Oregonians as we rebuild a strong, secure middle class with jobs that pay a living wage with good benefits.
It’s a commitment to urban and rural communities and my belief that Oregon will not be a good place for any of us to live unless it is a good place for all of us to live.
It’s a commitment to children and families and our critical work to expand access to quality affordable health care and reinvest in world-class schools that deliver better outcomes for students and more resources for teachers.
So let me just say this to those who supported my candidacy and also to those who did not:
We have accomplished a great deal together over the past four years. We pulled our state together under very difficult economic circumstance. And we did it not because we are partisans and stakeholders – although often we are – we did it because we are Oregonians committed to our state and a common future.
We have created over 100,000 new jobs, we are reinvesting in our schools – hiring back teachers and restoring a full school year — and today 95% of Oregonians have health insurance coverage, tens of thousands of them for the very first time.
But there is much more to do. We have just gone through a difficult campaign.
We have some healing to do if we are to keep our state centered and focused on the future. And that healing needs to begin now. We know how to do that because we have done it before. We know how to reach across the aisle for the good of our state because we have done that as well. We know how to come together as a community – bound together not just by where we live but also — and more importantly — by where we are going.
And that is the question before us: where are we going to go from here? We can choose to carry the 2014 campaign into the future and into the upcoming legislative session…or we can make an effort to understand one another as Oregonians and as fellow human beings and to embrace the reality we are all in this together.
And the only way to get there is to recognize that there are actually things we can do as a community, as a society and as a state to lift us all up – and I mean all of us regardless of race, income gender, sexual orientation, geography or home language.
My entire career has been based on that belief and I have tried to fight for it as an ER doctor, as a legislator, as a governor … and I fight for it every day as a father. The problems facing Oregon are our problems and at the end of the day they can only be solved if we all participate together.
Together we can complete the transformation of our health care system – changes that already are improving the quality of care, improving health, reducing costs and freeing resources for a long-term investment in children, families and education.
Together we can deliver a better future for our children, one where every child is ready for kindergarten, graduates from high school and is prepared for college and life after school.
Together we can improve our environment and find a way to reconcile our way of life with the unprecedented changes happening to our air, land, water and to our climate itself.
And together we will revitalize Oregon’s economy; building on our natural advantages and assets, so every community can thrive and compete.
That is what this campaign was all about and that is what we are fighting for today. We are fighting for the belief that we can lift up the whole community and that we are not going to leave anyone behind. We are fighting for the belief that every Oregonian deserves an equal opportunity to succeed; and for the belief that no place is better prepared to show the way forward than Oregon. I am proud and humbled to be your Governor, and I’m ready to get to work.