SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown and Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, have together raised $5.3 million in the 2018 race for governor, putting them on pace to blow past the most expensive governor’s race in state history.

Democrat John Kitzhaber and Republican Chris Dudley raised and spent more than $17.7 million in their 2010 race for governor, won narrowly by Kitzhaber. At this point in 2009, the year before the election, neither Kitzhaber or Dudley had even announced they were running. Both filed in early February 2010.

Brown and Buehler have each already surpassed the $2 million fundraising mark. Buehler has raised $1.96 million this year. When added to the $141,000 he carried over from last year, his total is $2.11 million. He’s spent just over $549,000 and currently has $1.55 million in the bank.

Brown has raised $1.89 million this year. When added to the $1.2 million she rolled over from last year, it gives her a total of just under $3.15 million. She has spent $1.17 million and has $1.96 million in the bank.

The numbers could be higher. Under state law, candidates have 30 days to report contributions and expenditures. Buehler has consistently reported both as they come in. His last recorded contribution was Nov. 26. Brown has returned to her earlier practice of filing in intermittent spurts, as the law allows. Her current last registered contribution is from Nov. 4.

The new totals come as Sam Carpenter, the Bend entrepreneur who is running against Buehler for the Republican nomination for governor, released a survey on the Republican primary.

The poll, by Triton Polling & Research of La Pine, is a mixed bag for both Carpenter and Buehler.

It showed that with about six months to go until the May 15 primary election, most Republicans had not tuned in to the candidates as yet.

In a prospective race featuring Buehler, Carpenter and Marion County real estate agent Bruce Cuff, more than 70 percent of the poll respondents either did not know or had no opinion of Buehler and Carpenter.

Cuff was unknown or didn’t register an opinion with more than 90 percent. The poll did not include other Republican candidates, including David Stauffer, of Portland, and Keenan Bohach, of Keizer.

Asked if they had to vote today, 24 percent chose Buehler, 12 percent chose Carpenter, 2 percent chose Cuff and 62 percent said they did not know.

The survey is also a “push poll” for Carpenter, meant to gauge basic voting trends and then try out campaign themes on respondents that are meant to reorient their votes toward the candidate who commissioned the survey.

Pollsters told respondents Buehler was a surgeon and a state lawmaker, that he was critical of President Donald Trump, and that he was “a moderate Republican and is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage.”

They were told Carpenter was, among other things, an author, businessman and former U.S. Senate candidate who had “created hundreds of good-paying jobs” and “rehabilitated hundreds of businesses that were on the verge of failure.”

No additional description of Cuff was provided.

Respondents were then told that “sometimes over the course of a survey opinions can change.” Respondents were then asked whom they would vote for. Carpenter was the choice of 45 percent, Buehler fell to 12 percent, Cuff received 4 percent and 40 percent were still unsure.

The Triton poll had 972 participants, who were contacted between Nov. 7 and 9. It was balanced for the age, gender and geographical distribution of the Republican voter base. The poll states a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent. The full poll and its results are available on Carpenter’s campaign website, www.makeoregongreatagain.com.

The poll underlines Buehler’s tough task to offer himself as a moderate alternative to Brown, who Buehler says is too liberal and tied to public employee unions. But he must first win the Republican primary, with a more conservative voter base than the general election.

The Carpenter-commissioned poll showed 86 percent of the Republicans polled had a favorable view of Trump.

“We’re just unraveling the conventional wisdom about his invincibility,” Carpenter said by email.

Buehler did not respond to a request for comment on Carpenter’s poll.

Whether a primary campaign will materialize against Buehler is yet to be seen. High-profile conservative Republicans such as Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, House Minority Leader Mike McLane of Powell Butte, and Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer have looked into the race and passed.

Carpenter says he is just starting to raise money to compete against Buehler. According to state campaign finance records, Carpenter has raised $2,805 and spent just over $800. That’s less than Buehler has raised in wine alone — Bend resident Drew Bledsoe, the former Pro-Bowl quarterback for the New England Patriots who has a winery business in Washington, contributed $3,528 “in kind” on Nov. 7 to Buehler’s campaign in the form of “wine donation/event.”

The wine donation made Buehler the all-time top recipient of Bledsoe’s campaign support. Buehler had earlier received three $500 contributions from Bledsoe since 2011. The previous largest recipient of Bledsoe’s support: $5,000 to Dudley in 2010.

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

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