BEND, Ore. - You could say that Bend surgeon and Republican Knute Buehler was moved to run for state Rep. Jason Conger's soon-open seat -- or, to be more precise, he had to move in order to make the campaign announced Sunday possible.
Buehler, a 49-year-old orthopedic surgeon at The Center in Bend, garnered more than 727,000 votes statewide in his fall 2012 bid to unseat Democrat Kate Brown as secretary of state. But in a state where Democrats hold a sizable voter registration advantage, Buehler still lost his first political campaign, 51 to 43 percent.
This year, moving from a home just outside the Oregon House District 54 boundaries played a role in his pondering and preparation to run for the seat Conger is giving up to run for Sen. Jeff Merkley's job -- if he succeeds in a crowded May GOP primary field.
In Sunday's announcement, Buehler said official paperwork will be filed this week with the Oregon Election Division under the PAC name Buehler for a United Oregon.
"I feel like I have a real depth of understanding of the needs of Oregon and, certainly living in Bend for 15 years, I have a close connection with people in Bend and understand the issues here," Buehler told NewsChannel 21 on Sunday.
Buehler will hold a campaign kickoff event on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Deschutes Brewery's Mountain Room, where he will expand on his decision to run.
But there's already a full-fledged Website, at http://knutebuehler.com/ for people to read up on his views, positions and background.
It's unusual in politics, but not unprecedented, to first run for statewide office, then a local position, with its different set of dynamics. And if Democrat Judy Stiegler does decide to run for the seat she lost to Conger in a hard-fought 2010 battle, the Bend lawyer's statewide credentials also would come into play, having served on the state Board of Education, for example.
Candidates have until March to file to run in the May primary.
During the campaign, Buehler said he plans to discuss issues facing Bend as well as the state, including improving our education system, health care transformation, creating a smarter more sustainable government, and election reform -- all of which will be a main focus during the campaign and in office if he is elected.
"What's clear is that our government is missing opportunities and avoiding challenges. Oregon's budget has tripled over the past 20 years, yet we see a declining education system, lack of infrastructure and lack of opportunity," Buehler said.
He will draw attention to what he calls "a new day in Oregon politics -- a day where politicians put aside their bickering and unite to produce a better Oregon"
"We must remember that in order for our democracy to thrive, we must reach across the aisle and find common ground," he said.
Here's the rest of Sunday's announcement, in full:
Buehler is a prominent and respected member of the Bend community; he is a long-time business owner, well-known surgeon, community contributor and a committed father and husband.
A number of prominent Bend leaders have already endorsed Dr. Buehler:
Amy Tykeson, President, CEO and Chairperson, BendBroadband - "Economic development and giving back to the community are two areas that mean a lot to me. I support Knute Buehler and his decision to run for Representative of Bend in the Oregon House. As an integral part of the Bend community, he understands what we need—education, business development and policy reform. In Knute, we have a passionate leader, focused on results for a better Bend."
Bruce Abernethy, Former Mayor and City Council Member, City of Bend - "Knute Buehler would be a uniting and pragmatic representative for Bend and all of Oregon. After serving eight years on Bend's City Council, I've come away with the knowledge that we need strong leadership in our state and city government. Not just leaders looking at the current political scene, but leaders that have the foresight to see what will most benefit our community and state in the long term. Knute brings this vision."
Tammy Baney, Deschutes County Commissioner - "As Deschutes County Commissioner, I have witnessed an immense need for reform in education, and health care. Having someone like Dr. Knute Buehler elected to represent Bend would hugely benefit the state. Dr. Buehler's background as a surgeon and business owner would bring a unique perspective to the table, which is much needed."
Rod Ray, Ph.D., P.E., CEO and Chairman, Bend Research - "I'm a strong believer in fostering new leadership in Oregon politics, and Knute Buehler is the man to provide this much needed change in Salem. It's time for a new day in our state government and that's why I support Knute Buehler. He will bring a new voice to Salem, one that truly represents the people of Bend."
Mike Hollern, Chief Executive Officer and Chair, Brooks Resources Corporation - "I've known Knute a long time, and can say without a shadow of a doubt that he is the right candidate to foster a new day in Oregon politics and for Bend. In the world of real estate development, similar to the political spectrum, we see many businesses and developers come and go in this community. But, Knute is committed to Bend and Oregon, and will work hard to accomplish our shared goals."
About Knute Buehler: Dr. Knute Buehler is a husband, father, business owner, physician and civic leader, who has helped build and manage an esteemed medical clinic, which employs over 165 Central Oregonians. He lives in Bend, Ore. with Patty Buehler, his dedicated wife of over 22 years, where they have raised two well-rounded children, Owen and Hannah.
An accomplished scholar, Dr. Buehler has a Masters in Politics and Economics from Oxford, and is Oregon State University's first graduate to go on to become a Rhodes Scholar. An active civic leader, he serves as chair of the Institute for Community Building with the Ford Family Foundation, is a board member for the Oregon League of Minority Voters, and is also a board member for the St. Charles Health System in Bend.
Dr. Buehler has worked on multiple initiatives to decrease partisanship and reform state election laws. He recently ran a vigorous campaign for Oregon Secretary of State - representing both the Republican and Independent parties. He continues to actively contribute to his community and work to make Oregon State Government a partner for business success. Dr. Buehler strongly believes in creating a sustainable state government, election reform and working to solve key issues, which is why he is currently running to represent House District 54, in Bend.