SALEM — Republican businessman Sam Carpenter of Bend, a 2016 candidate for the U.S. Senate, has created an exploratory committee for the 2018 GOP primary for governor.

Carpenter, owner of a telecommunications company, said Thursday that Oregon Republicans need a conservative alternative to Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, who announced his candidacy Aug 3.

“I’m disappointed that the declared and rumored candidates currently in the field have not supported President Trump and his vision of economic growth and government reform,” Carpenter said.

Buehler has made measured but critical statements about Trump both before and after the November 2016 election.

Carpenter said he is opposed to abortion. Buehler’s Aug. 3 campaign announcement said he is pro-choice.

Carpenter registered a candidate committee with the Secretary of State on Wednesday, which allows him to raise and spend money.

He said he hopes to make a decision on running in the near future.

Carpenter garnered attention in early 2016 when he was endorsed in the GOP U.S. Senate primary by The Bulletin and The Oregonian.

In a race between four little-known candidates, Carpenter finished second in the May primary to Mark Callahan, who went on to lose to incumbent Democrat Ron Wyden in November.

Callahan, an information technology consultant from Salem, had lost several runs for local, state and federal office, including a previous bid for the U.S. Senate. It was that 2014 race that made a name for Callahan, who was ejected from an interview of candidates at the offices of Willamette Week, the alternative newspaper in Portland.

Callahan said he had objected to what he thought was a disrespectful attitude by a weekly reporter towards another candidate. Fox News and conservative radio stations picked up on the story.

Carpenter says he and other candidates made a mistake by not explicitly mentioning their opposition to abortion in candidate statements.

“Callahan was the only one,” Carpenter said. “My mistake, but it was too late.”

Callahan won 38.6 percent of the primary vote, with Carpenter second at 32.7 percent. Incumbent U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat, won re-election with 57 percent of the vote.

—Reporter: 541-525-5280, gwarner@bendbulletin.com

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