SALEM — State Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, has officially announced his plan to run for governor.
Buehler, an orthopedic surgeon who had been rumored to seek the post in 2018, was first elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 2014.
The Bulletin on Thursday reported that Buehler announced his candidacy during a meeting with the newspaper's editorial board Wednesday.
In an official campaign announcement Thursday, Buehler said that Oregon "needs change — and I'm ready to lead it." He said he intended to pursue public pension reform, "restore fiscal sanity to Oregon's budget," and work to boost the state's economy by emphasizing job training and holding back on "excessive, job-killing" regulations.
Buehler's political action committee has collected more than $97,000 in campaign donations this year and spent about $106,890, as of Thursday morning, according to state campaign finance records.
GOP nomination challengers
Buehler grew up in Roseburg and attended Oregon State University. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and earned a medical degree from Johns Hopkins University.
More than a year before the November 2018 election, Buehler is the first official contender in the race. The timing of his announcement in early August is unusual for a gubernatorial campaign. Buehler has hired political strategist Rebecca Tweed to run his campaign. Tweed was statewide campaign coordinator for the "No on Measure 97" coalition. The coalition's campaign helped to defeat the $6.1 billion corporate sales tax measure in 2016.
In the bid for the GOP nomination, Buehler could face off with Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer. The Republican mayor opened a Lori Chavez-DeRemer for Governor PAC in June to raise money for a potential run but has not officially declared. So far, she has raised more than $11,000. She spent about $8,000 July 31 to hire Moore Information, a GOP polling firm, according to campaign finance records.
Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, also has stopped short of officially announcing her candidacy, but has collected about $778,577 in campaign donations in 2017 as of Wednesday evening, according to state campaign finance records.
Buehler unsuccessfully ran against Brown in 2012 when she was seeking re-election to her post as secretary of state.
Early this year, the state's government ethics commission found that Buehler failed to report $12,500 in payments he received in 2013 for sitting on the board of St. Charles Health System on an annual financial disclosure form that legislators must file.
The Democratic Party of Oregon filed an ethics complaint raising the issue; the complaint included other claims that were dismissed.
Buehler attributed the issue to a clerical error and called the ethics complaint "politically motivated."
'Would be a fine governor'
Jeanne Atkins, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Oregon and former secretary of state, said in a statement that Buehler "represents everything we are trying to change in state government."
"Gov. Kate Brown beat him before and she will beat him again," Atkins said. "...Despite his claims of moderation and 'going down the middle,' his actions and votes show he has the interests of a wealthy businessman and is aligned with the core conservatives of the Republican party."
Dennis Richardson, the Oregon secretary of state and 2014 GOP candidate for governor, said Buehler "would make a fine governor."
"I'm excited to see who else will be entering the race," Richardson said.
Asked whether he would throw his own hat in the ring, Richardson said he would "make no promises about the future."
"...My focus is on being the best secretary of state I can be, and that's where my attention is at this time," he said.