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Bend lawmaker to run for governor.

Byline: Dylan Darling The Register-Guard

A Republican challenger has announced he is running against incumbent Democratic Gov. Kate Brown in Oregon's 2018 gubernatorial race.

State Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, spread word of his candidacy Thursday on social media. Still a practicing orthopedic surgeon, Buehler served on the House Health Care and Revenue committees in this past legislative session, as well as the Joint Committee on Tax Credits.

"Kate Brown has had her chance, and she's failed," Buehler said in a statement announcing his run. "She's refused to lead on essential budget, pension and education reforms critical to Oregon's future. Instead, she simply demands higher and higher taxes."

Brown took office in February 2015 after the resignation of Gov. John Kitz haber, a fellow Democrat. She then won a 2016 special election against Republican Bud Pierce.

Candidates for governor in next year's vote still have time to file with the state, but Brown and Buehler have started campaigns and fundraising. Candidates don't file with the state until September, according to the Secretary of State's Office.

Thomas Wheatley, Brown's campaign manager, said Brown would not comment about Buehler's bid. "She's focused on doing the job of governor, not worried about who else wants the job," he wrote in an email.

Oregon has not had a Republican governor since Vic Atiyeh, who served from 1979 to 1987.

Brown and Buehler have squared off in an election before, vying for the Oregon secretary of state position in 2012. Brown won by 136,049 votes (863,656 for Brown, 727,607 for Buehler).

Buehler first earned a seat in the state House of Representatives in 2014, beating Democrat Craig Wilhelm.

Earlier this year, he faced an ethics complaint filed by the Democratic Party of Oregon regarding consulting payments he collected.

The Oregon Government Ethics Commission responded with a "letter of education" to Buehler for failing to disclose all income, but it did not impose a fine.

Oregon gubernatorial campaign topics are sure to include the ever increasing costs of the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System and how to deal with them; other rising state and K-12 personnel costs; and figuring out how to pay for Oregon's share of expanding the federal Affordable Care Act.

A state PERS board voted last week to lower the assumed rate of return on investments for the pension fund, meaning Oregon now faces a $24 billion debt tied to the program.

Buehler, who grew up in Roseburg and pitched for the Oregon State University baseball team from 1983 to 1985, said as governor he would reform public schools, curb state spending and revive the middle-income economy.

"I won't forget Oregon's taken-for-granted people in inner cities and long-forgotten rural towns," he said.

Email Dylan at dylan.darling@registerguard.com.

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Title Annotation:State Government; In announcing his candidacy, Republican Knute Buehler says "Kate Brown has had her chance, and she's failed"
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Geographic Code:1U9OR
Date:Aug 4, 2017
Words:458
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