By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Gov. John Kitzhaber won’t finish the fourth term he just started.
Kitzhaber, who defeated Dennis Richardson in last fall’s election but has come under heavy fire since then for allegations centering around his fiancee Cylvia Hayes, announced on Friday he is resigning as Oregon’s governor.
Kitzhaber’s resignation is effective at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18. Secretary of State Kate Brown will take over as governor.
Friday’s announcement by the embattled governor caps off a whirlwind week of rumors and speculations around the state capitol building in Salem. On more than one occasion, there was talk Kitzhaber would resign, only to have a change of mind.
By Thursday, even some of Kitzhaber’s closest allies were calling for him to resign.
“It is with deep sadness that I ask Governor John Kitzhaber to resign his position as Governor of Oregon,” state treasurer Ted Wheeler said on Thursday. “He has accomplished many great things during his long career, and history will be kinder to him than current events suggest. Unfortunately, the current situation has become untenable, and I cannot imagine any scenario by which things improve. Oregon deserves a Governor who is fully focused on the duties of state. I hope the governor will do the right thing for Oregon and its citizens.”
Other prominent officials such as House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney made similar statements on Thursday.
Shortly past noon on Friday, Kitzhaber announced via a press release he is indeed resigning.
“I understand that I have become a liability to the very institutions and policies to which I have dedicated my career and, indeed, my entire adult life,” Kitzhaber’s statement read in part. “As a former presiding officer I fully understand the reasons for which I have been asked to resign. I wish Speaker Kotek and President Courtney and their colleagues on both sides of the aisle success in this legislative session and beyond. And I hope that they are truly committed to carrying forward the spirit of bipartisanship and collaboration that has marked the last four years in Oregon.”