Theodore R. "Ted" Kulongoski (KOO-ləng-GOS-kee, born November 5, 1940) is an American politician, who served as the 36th Governor of Oregon. A Democrat, he has served in both houses of the Oregon Legislative Assembly, as the state Insurance Commissioner, the Attorney General, and an Associate Justice on the Oregon Supreme Court.
Ted Kulongoski was born in St. Louis Missouri in 1940. He was 4 years old when his father died, and spent the rest of his childhood in a Catholic boys' home. After high school, Kulongoski served in the Marines.
With the help of the G.I. Bill, he obtained an undergraduate and law degree from the University of Missouri in 1970. Kulongoski then moved to Eugene, Oregon and became a labor lawyer.
In 1974, Kulongoski was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives and, in 1978, to the Oregon State Senate. In Oregon's 1980 United States Senate election, he ran an unsuccessful race against Republican Bob Packwood. In 1982, he made his first bid for governor; he was defeated by Republican incumbent Victor G.
Atiyeh. At the 1980 Democratic National Convention then-State Senator and U.S. Senate nominee Kulongoski received 8 (0.24%) delegate votes for Vice President of the United States. Kulongoski was not a candidate and incumbent Walter Mondale was easily renominated. In 1987, Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt appointed Kulongoski to the post of state insurance commissioner.
Oregon Attorney General
In 1992, Ted Kulongoski was elected as Oregon Attorney General, defeating Republican Rich Rodeman. As Attorney General, he focused on reforming the juvenile justice system. In 1996, Kulongoski decided against running for re-election as Attorney General, and instead successfully ran for the Oregon Supreme Court. He resigned from the court in 2001 to run for governor.
Governor of Oregon
After winning the Democratic party nomination in the 2002 race for governor, Kulongoski's opponent was Republican Kevin Mannix. He narrowly won the election, winning 618,004 votes (49%), with 581,785 votes (46%) going to Mannix, and 57,760 votes (5%) going to Libertarian candidate Tom Cox. Kulongoski took office January 13, 2003.
He inherited a state facing a massive budget deficit and high unemployment. Furthermore, he faced the task of dealing with problems with the public employees' pension system without angering the labor unions that backed his campaign. As Governor, he was a member of the National Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association. On November 7, 2006, Kulongoski won a second term, 51% to 43% over Ron Saxton. Beginning the week of April 24, 2007, Kulongoski gained national attention when he joined a campaign, known as the food stamp challenge, that portrays the difficulty living on the average weekly food stamp allotment of $21. Kulongski announced May 8, 2007 that Oregon will join the Climate Registry to track dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. He signed two GLBT rights bills into law: a domestic partnership bill and an anti-discrimination bill at a ceremony May 9, 2007. In May 2010, Kulongoski suffered a vitreous hemorrhage in the eye due to fragile, abnormal blood vessels that have grown in the retina of the eye. According to Kulongoski spokeswoman Anna Richter Taylor, the governor is scheduled for outpatient surgery at Oregon Health & Science University on June 30, 2010 to surgically remove the vitreous gel from the middle of the eye so full vision can be restored. In September 2010, Kulongoski was one of seven governors to receive a grade of F in the Cato Institute's fiscal-policy report card.