SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown has more than twice the amount of money to spend than her leading GOP challenger for governor, Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend.

As of Thursday, Brown had $3.5 million in the bank and Buehler had $1.5 million.

Buehler has outspent Brown $1.8 million to $1.4 million. Buehler, a moderate, faces two conservatives — Greg Wooldridge and Sam Carpenter — in the May 15 primary. Each has spent more than $150,000 to woo voters. Brown faces only token opposition in the Democratic primary.

With over six months remaining until the Nov. 6 general election, Brown and Buehler have altogether raised $8.6 million. The fundraising pace puts them on track to pass the record $17.7 million spent in the 2010 governor’s race — a narrow victory by Democrat John Kitzhaber over Republican Chris Dudley.

Brown has raised $5.3 million. The sum includes $1.1 million left over from 2016, when she won the special election for governor. Buehler has raised $3.3 million, all but $161,000 raised since he announced his candidacy in August 2017.

“Every dollar you chip in takes our message straight to another voter, and that is crucial,” a recent email from Buehler’s campaign said.

“Will you contribute today so we can fend off attack ads and run a winning campaign?” said a recent email from Brown’s campaign.

Wooldridge has raised $201,000 and spent $170,000. The money includes a $100,000 contribution from a Northern California investment group. Wooldridge said late last week that he will spend it all on the primary.

“I plan on spending the last dollar as voters are returning their ballots,” Wooldridge said.

Carpenter has raised and spent more than $190,000 — primarily loans from the candidate to his campaign.

The fundraising and spending is expected to only increase in pace after the primary narrows the field. Several major donors in the past have yet to give money.

Brown’s largest single contribution in 2016 was $250,000 from New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, which came in September, two months before the general election. Bloomberg has yet to contribute in 2018.

State and national political parties, which can pump millions of dollars into gubernatorial campaigns, have stayed on the sidelines when it comes to contributions, waiting for the official end of the primaries before gauging how much money to spend and when to spend it.

The Democratic Party of Oregon spent $275,000 in cash and in-kind contributions to Brown in 2016.

The largest single donation to a candidate in any election on record is the $1.5 million given to Dudley by the Republican Governors Conference. That contribution came in October 2010 — a month before the general election. Overall, the group spent $2.3 million on Dudley’s unsuccessful campaign.

— Reporter: 541-640-2750, gwarner@bendbulletin.com

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