An orthopedic surgeon from Bend said Wednesday he's running for secretary of state, and Republicans hope he'll help them crack a Democratic monopoly on statewide offices.
Dr. Knute Buehler launched his bid after exploring a run and raising money for weeks. He's amassed nearly $200,000 for his campaign to unseat Democrat Kate Brown, who is seeking a second term.
The secretary of state's office is an often-overlooked agency responsible for running elections, auditing government agencies and licensing businesses.
Buehler says he wants the office to use its role with businesses to do more to support them and to advocate for new campaign finance restrictions.
Brown says she's proud of her record and has delivered on her promises to Oregon voters.
News release from the campaign:
Dr. Knute Buehler, an orthopedic surgeon and election reform advocate from Bend, announced his candidacy for Oregon Secretary of State at events in Roseburg and Portland today. Buehler said he will focus the office on being a more welcoming doorstep for those looking to create jobs and control costs in state government by allowing the office to conduct performance audits.
?Our state faces some extraordinary challenges,? Buehler said. ?Oregon needs fresh, energetic, transforming new leaders with experience outside government willing to push past the partisan divide.?
Buehler explained the basics, a ?three point prescription to get Oregon working? saying, ?Everything should meet three simple criteria: Does it improve quality of life, control cost, and build community??
Buehler offered thoughts on how those principles apply to each of the office?s key divisions: Audits, Corporations, Elections, and Archives. He also explained that the Secretary of State?s position on the State Land Board can be a driving force for job creation in rural communities by increasing availability of locally harvested logs for Oregon mills.
Buehler is a vocal advocate for opening Oregon?s partisan primaries, traditionally held in May of even numbered years, to independent and non-affiliated voters similar to systems in Washington and California. ?We are currently leaving a quarter of Oregon voters out of our primaries,? he said. ?That?s neither fair nor healthy and we are now the only state on the west coast that doesn?t have an open primary.?
During the 1990s, Buehler was heavily involved in passing campaign finance reform measures that placed strict limits on campaign contributions from individuals, PACs, and labor unions. Voters enacted the measures in November 1994 but the courts later overturned them.
Buehler held an event Wednesday morning in Roseburg, the town where he was born and raised, before traveling to Portland for a second announcement event at the World Forestry Center. He will also hold events in Eugene, Medford and Bend on Thursday.
Buehler is an orthopedic surgeon from Bend, where he and his wife Patty are raising their two children. He was born and raised in Roseburg and attended Oregon State University where he played on the school?s baseball team, graduated at the top of his class with a degree in micro-biology and became OSU?s first Rhodes Scholar.
He holds a master?s degree in Politics and Economics from Oxford University and received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Dr. Buehler has built a successful medical practice that employs 170 people in Central Oregon and serves on the Board of Directors for St. Charles Medical Center where he has been instrumental in implementing a performance auditing system.