SALEM — Bend businessman Sam Carpenter announced Wednesday he will challenge Rep. Knute Buehler for the 2018 Republican nomination for governor.
“I confidently predict an enormous political and economic turn-around for Oregon as we leave behind the current failed progressive far-left leadership of Gov. Kate Brown, and move forward to an executive branch that is laser-focused on serving the people of Oregon through a smaller, much more efficient government machine,” Carpenter said in a statement.
Carpenter, 67, is billing himself the conservative choice against the more moderate Buehler, also from Bend. The primary is in May.
His campaign motto is styled after that of President Donald Trump’s: “Make Oregon Great Again.”
“Yes, I share President Donald Trump’s vision of a society truly in tune and serving the needs of regular Americans, not the needs of the intertwined cabal of big government, big business, and big finance,” Carpenter said. “I’ll fight to put the power back where it belongs, in the hands of Oregon’s citizens.
Buehler, an orthopedic surgeon, is known for spearheading significant pieces of bipartisan legislation, including increasing access to contraceptives. The two major reproductive rights organizations — Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America — nevertheless, have backed Brown. He declared his run for governor in early August.
Rebecca Tweed, Buehler’s campaign manager, said she had no comment on Carpenter’s announcement Wednesday.
Carpenter told the Pamplin/EO Capital Bureau in August that he was considering a campaign for governor but was waiting to see if any candidates with Trump-minded agendas made a bid. If no one else he could support stepped up, Carpenter said he would seek the position.
The winner of the GOP primary will face off with Gov. Brown, who is seeking her second and final term as the state’s chief executive.
Thomas Wheatley, Brown’s campaign adviser, said Carpenter’s “entrance into the race will add a lot more sizzle to the Republican primary.”
If elected, Carpenter vows to streamline state government, “facilitate a private sector business environment that allows a robust economy” and curb government “interference in our personal lives.”
The Bend businessman is CEO of Centratel national telephone answering service and has authored two books on business management.
He first entered Oregon politics when he made a short-lived bid for the GOP nomination to challenge Democrat U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, then dropped out of the race. He also unsuccessfully sought to unseat U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, in 2016. He has never held elected office.