HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — If one pollster in Oregon has it right, the NBA could add another alum to its growing list of political heavyweights currently in office.
Republican Chris Dudley, the former Knicks, Nets and Trail Blazers big man, is in a fight to the finish in Oregon’s gubernatorial race. Dudley was three percentage points ahead (46 to 43) of Democratic candidate and former Gov. John A. Kitzhaber, per a Fox 12/Portland Tribune/Portland Public Broadcasting poll conducted by local pollster Tom Hibbits.
With a margin of error in the poll of 4.4 percentage points, Dudley might want to hold off on any premature celebrating. But he won’t have to go far in search of advice if he does convince enough people to “Join Oregon’s Comeback.”
Former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson is the mayor of Sacramento and NBA Hall of Famer Dave Bing is the mayor of Detroit. Dudley isn’t the only 7-footer and retired NBA veteran seeking office. Shawn Bradley, the No. 2 pick in the 1993 NBA draft, is the Republican candidate for the 44th District seat in the Utah House of Representatives.
We usually try to steer clear of anything other than hideout politics around here, but we’re officially on the bandwagon with any former NBA players rocking the vote on Election Day across the country — that would be Tuesday folks, so get out and vote! Dudley is fighting long odds.
A win would be historic for a couple of reasons, as he’d also be the first former NBA player elected governor. No Republican has been elected Oregon’s governor since 1982. A Yale graduate, Dudley’s long been a champion for diabetes research and now he’d be a political pioneer, of sorts (the trail was first blazed by former Knicks great Bill Bradley, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, served three terms as a Democratic senator from New Jersey).
It always helps to have influential friends in all the right places. Dudley’s donor list (per the New York Times) is rather impressive for any candidate, let alone a political novice:
Among the contributors to Dudley’s campaign are N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern; the founder of Nike, Phil Knight; the coaches P. J. Carlesimo and Rick Carlisle; and his former Blazers teammates Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter.
“The voters of this state don’t get too excited about Republican governors, I can tell you that right now,” said Porter, who is a member of the campaign’s finance committee. “But he’s going to put in the tireless effort that he’s always been known for on the basketball court.”
We haven’t forgotten that TNT’s very own Charles Barkley has talked for years about running for governor of his home state of Alabama. Sounds good to us. Too bad he won’t be the first.
Whenever you are ready Chuck!