Bend businessman Sam Carpenter has joined the race for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden this fall.
Carpenter, 67, has owned the Bend-based telephone-answering service Centratel since 1984. He’s written two books on business management, worked as a business consultant and founded a charitable organization to assist victims of a 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. He has not previously held elected office.
Thursday, Carpenter said his work helping to turn around struggling small businesses would be an asset in Washington, D.C.
“I’m a small-business guy, I repair businesses, and I’m tired of watching what’s going on with this state,” he said
Carpenter becomes the fourth candidate to enter the race for his party’s nomination, joining Lane County Commissioner Faye Stewart, 2014 Senate candidate Mark Callahan and Dan Laschober, a Wilsonville software and finance consultant.
Wyden, a Portland Democrat, was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980 and was elected to the Senate during a special election in January 1996 following the resignation of Republican Sen. Bob Packwood.
Carpenter said the climate is ripe for an unconventional candidate to topple an incumbent like Wyden and pointed to polling in the Republican presidential primary to support his case. When Donald Trump pulls 35 percent support in polling and Jeb Bush sits at 5 percent, Carpenter said it suggests voters are hungry for something different.
“We need an outsider in there; we’ve got enough professional politicians,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter considered entering the race to challenge Wyden in 2010 but ultimately declined. In 2013 he joined the field of Republicans seeking to challenge Sen. Jeff Merkley but dropped out quickly and endorsed Jason Conger, then a state representative from Bend. Conger went on to lose the Republican primary to Monica Wehby, who lost to Merkley in November 2014.
Oregon Republicans have not elected a candidate to statewide office since 2002, when Gordon Smith was elected to his final term in the U.S. Senate.
— Reporter: 541-383-0387,