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Dudley do right: Ex-NBA big man wins nod in governor's race

Dan Devine
Ball Don't Lie

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Not content with allowing his kid brother young cousin last-namesake Jared Dudley(notes) to hog all the Dud-pub this postseason, NBA veteteran Chris Dudley grabbed some headlines of his own on Tuesday by winning Oregon's Republican gubernatorial primary.

With vote tallies reported in 94.5 percent of precincts as of Thursday afternoon, Dudley earned 39.6 percent of ballots cast in the state party's primary, according to Politico.com. He bested eight other GOP hopefuls, including runner-up Allen Alley (32 percent) and third-place finisher John Lim (14.9 percent). He'll face John Kitzhaber in the general election Nov. 2 to replace incumbent Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a Democrat who is stepping down after two terms in office. Kitzhaber, who served as the state's governor from 1995 through 2003, garnered 65.8 percent of the vote to smoke his two challengers in the Democratic primary.

Dudley, 45, retired during the 2002-03 season after a 16-year career that included two tours with Portland Trail Blazers, as well as stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns. After hanging 'em up, Dudley moved into the financial services and wealth management business. Away from the office, he continued working to aid children with juvenile diabetes and their families through the Chris Dudley Foundation (he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 16 years old, according to the foundation's website). He even found time to write a children's book, "Chris Dreams BIG," with his wife, Chris Love-Dudley.

Wendell Maxey of ESPN.com's Page 2 referred to Kitzhaber as a "wily veteran," while OregonLive.com's Jack Roberts casts the former governor as "the professor" against Dudley's "jock." Kitzhaber certainly has the mustache to match both descriptions.

However, the 6-foot-11 political newcomer told Maxey he intends to be the one doing the schooling come November:

"I'm the type of person, that I don't worry about what I can't control," said Dudley, who plans to "bring fresh ideas" to public office if he's elected. "It's a case where you do everything you can do and let it go and see how it works out. I feel good about the reaction we've had and the energy that is out there."

Whether or not that energy is enough to overcome a six-term Democratic hold on Oregon's corner office — as ProBasketballTalk's Kurt Helin noted, "Oregon is about as blue a state as there is in the nation" — remains to be seen. And if elected, the Yale product is likely to face some steep challenges, including a possible decade of deficits stemming from the national economic downturn, that would test the mettle of far more experienced public servants.

Still, given the horror stories we all-too-often hear about athletes whose lives go up in flames when their careers draw to a close, it's refreshing to see one traveling a more successful path. There will be plenty of time to argue for or against his political affiliations and philosophies, but for right now, big up yourself, Chris Dudley. You're less than six months away from maybe being governor of the state of Oregon. I bet that'd feel almost as good as throwing down a "monster slam."

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