By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
As Gov. John Kitzhaber announced his resignation Feb. 13, state Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) had her hands full.
With her 2-year-old grandson, that is.
Yes, as an Oregon governor resigned under pressure for the first time in state history, Thatcher wasn’t at the capitol.
“I wasn’t here on Friday,” said Thatcher, who moved over to the Senate this year after 10 years in the House of Representatives. “The Senate doesn’t hold meetings on Friday, so there was no reason to be here. Plus I had agreed to watch my grandson, so I was up to my eyeballs starting on Thursday night with a 2-year-old. I was not hanging onto every Facebook post and tweet.”
Thatcher didn’t know the news until seeing a message from her brother-in-law, at which point she checked the news.
Kitzhaber had come under increasing pressure from leaders on both sides of the aisle to resign, due to issues surrounding how fiancee Cylvia Hayes got state contracts as well as criminal investigations into Kitzhaber’s actions.
“I have always had the deepest respect for the remarkable institution that is the Oregon Legislature; and for the office of the governor,” Kitzhaber’s statement read in part. “And I cannot in good conscience continue to be the element that undermines it. I have always tried to do the right thing and now the right thing to do is to step aside.”
At the same time, Kitzhaber displayed a defiance.
“I must also say that it is deeply troubling to me to realize that we have come to a place in the history of this great state of ours where a person can be charged, tried, convicted and sentenced by the media with no due process and no independent verification of the allegations involved,” Kitzhaber said later. “But even more troubling – and on a very personal level as someone who has given 35 years of public service to Oregon – is that so many of my former allies in common cause have been willing to simply accept this judgment at its face value.”
Secretary of State Kate Brown was sworn in as Oregon’s new governor on Wednesday morning at the state capitol.
Rep. Bill Post (R-Keizer), who took over Thatcher’s former seat, was in the capitol last week when the resignation news came out.
“Here’s what I was struck by, being in this building: it was historic first of all,” Post said. “Wednesday through Friday the air was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I kept thinking, ‘This is the term I was elected, when this event takes place?’ Whether a person likes or doesn’t like what the governor did, it was without a doubt a historic moment and those of us in the building will be forever imprinted on Oregon history. I am very hopeful that Gov. Kate Brown will be willing to work with both sides of the aisle to make Oregon a better place for all of us.”
Thatcher noted things were business as normal – as much as could be, at least – last Thursday.
“On Thursday, the Senate president (Peter Courtney) told us he requested Kitzhaber to resign,” Thatcher said. “He told us he had done that. There was a lengthy discussion about how it was distracting. It was sort of a distraction and a distraction with the media as well. Legislation like automatic voter registration was dwarfed, with concerns not brought up in the media. We’re still holding meetings, but what’s happening there is being put on the backburner as far as letting the public know what’s going on.”
Speaking for herself, Thatcher said her nose was buried in her job, not the news.