SALEM — Did you enjoy your holiday Monday? What? No time off for Indigenous Peoples’ Day/Columbus Day? You’re not alone. For many Oregonians, the only evidence of Monday’s holiday was no mail delivery and shuttered state offices. In Salem, we can’t even decide what it is we’re celebrating. Gov. Kate Brown proclaimed it “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” following a national trend of recognizing that when Christopher Columbus “discovered” North America, there were already a lot of people here. But for traditionalists, you can still go to the state website, and the holiday is listed under the name of the Italian mariner.
Government may have stopped for a day, but politics is perpetual motion. Here’s some of the latest from in and around the Capitol:
Rep. Knute Buehler’s 54th House District seat is up for grabs as he vies for the governor’s office against Democrat Brown, but Republicans face an unsettled future on a line of Central Oregon House seats stretching from the Columbia River almost to the California border.
Three other GOP House members representing the region are leaving their seats. Rep. Mark Johnson, R-Hood River, is giving up House District 52 to become director of Oregon Business & Industry. Rep. John Huffman, R-The Dalles, has announced he is not running for re-election to his 59th House District seat that includes a northern portion of Deschutes County. Way down south, Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, is not seeking re-election in House District 6.
But that may not be all. Rep. Gene Whisnant, R-Sunriver, a 14-year veteran of the House, has done little to quiet rumors he wants to retire from his 53rd House District seat in the bickering body. Whisnant has only said he has “no announcement at this time.” House Minority Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, was ready last spring to give up his 55th House District for the job of U.S. attorney in Oregon.
President Trump has yet to name his choice, but McLane says if it is not him, he will run for re-election. Only Rep. E. Werner Reschke, R-Klamath Falls, keeps the string of districts in question from reaching the Golden State. Unlike Buehler’s district, the seats of Huffman, Whisnant and McLane vote heavily Republican — McLane and Huffman received over 70 percent of the vote in 2016 and Whisnant won 66 percent. But the seats of Johnson and Esquivel are considered “swing” districts which could go either way. With so much upheaval in Washington and so little margin in Salem, Republicans cannot take any race for granted.
Buehler isn’t the only Bend resident to be bit by the state politics bug. Other Deschutes County people who have filed for offices with the Secretary of State include District Attorney John Hummel, who filed for re-election Oct. 3. Also in is Bend City Councilor Nathan Boddie, for the 54th House District being vacated by Buehler. Ross Wordhouse, a Bend entrepreneur, has filed to run as a Democrat in the primary to face U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River. Republican Sam Carpenter has created a campaign finance committee with the Secretary of State to run for governor and announced his candidacy, but has not filed for office.
Green light for endorsing
With Gov. Brown officially in the 2018 race, groups are rapidly issuing endorsements. Brown is not expected to see any strong opposition in the Democratic primary, leaving groups the option of endorsing her sooner than later. Among the labor groups already on record is the state AFL-CIO who endorsed the governor during the labor group’s recent convention in Bend. She also received an early endorsement from The Oregon League of Conservation Voters.
Buehler still has to win the Republican primary next May, which will open the way for group endorsements who may wait to see who else gets into the GOP race. So far, he has been endorsed by Nike co-founder and CEO Phil Knight, former U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, and Whisnant. He was also endorsed by Esquivel, who is not running for re-election, but has a high profile among conservatives as one of the co-petitioners on Referendum 301, the health care tax that has a strong chance of making the January 2018 ballot.
Knute Buehler, R-Tualatin?
Knute Buehler lives in Bend, has his medical practice and business in Bend and represents Bend in the state House. But the Portland suburb of Tualatin is the headquarters for his campaign for governor. Why? That’s the home base of Rebecca Tweed, Buehler’s campaign manager. Tweed, who ran the successful campaign against Measure 97, said the days when a campaign headquarters was a storefront in the candidate’s hometown are long gone. The physical address is a formality required by the state. Having any mail go to her P.O. box, is simply more efficient. Most campaign business is transacted online, which is how Carol Russell, the Buehler campaign treasurer, can handle the millions of dollars in contributions from her office in Coos County.
Governor’s race fundraising
As of Oct. 6:
Brown: $1.46 million since the beginning of the year, while spending $988,000. She has $1.7 million in the bank.
Buehler: $1.49 million since beginning of the year, while spending $262,000. He has $1.37 million in the bank.
“It’s a Friday night and we are sitting here with a whole lot of people, across the street they are going for the biggest crowd in volleyball history, tomorrow I am going to the Ducks game, where there are a lot of people. They deserve the right to know they and their families are going to be safe. That they are not going to face what the people at that concert in Las Vegas faced. Automatic? I think the thing that should be automatic is common sense. Common sense gun laws.”
— U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., interview with The Bulletin in Eugene, Oct. 6, on gun violence.
— Reporter: 541-525-5280 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: This article has been corrected. The original version misstated the timing of the possible Referendum 301 election. The Bulletin regrets the error.