Phone banks, rallies, fly-arounds, selfies and a llama were part of the final full day of campaigning on Monday by the top two candidates for governor.
Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and Republican Knute Buehler both came to Eugene, appearing just a few blocks and a few hours apart.
Buehler was on a five-stop fly-around that included stops in Tigard, Eugene and Medford, with a final gathering of supporters later in the afternoon in Bend before flying back to his suburban Portland campaign headquarters in Tualatin. Buehler is seeking to become the first Republican to win the governorship since Vic Atiyeh in 1982.
Buehler and his wife, Patricia, joined about a dozen volunteers at a phone bank midmorning to make calls to voters who had not yet cast their ballots.
“We’re hearing a lot of excitement, a real desire for a change that will bring a less partisan leadership to state government,” Buehler said. “It’s going to take a herculean effort to start to turn things around in Oregon.”
At noon, Brown rallied about 200 supporters outside the Erb Memorial Union on the campus of the University of Oregon. She was joined by a host of federal, state and local political leaders, including the state’s two U.S. senators, Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.
“Politics is not a spectator sport,” Brown told the largely student audience, saying volunteers had knocked on 100,000 doors the past weekend. She urged them to push for the slate of Democratic candidates and issues right up to the 8 p.m. deadline for voting on Tuesday.
“We need a governor that will stand up to the Trump Administration,” Brown said. She urged the crowd to channel any anger into “energy and enthusiasm” for the election.
After the speeches, Brown posed for selfies and group photos with students for a half hour, including a man with a llama.
The rally was Brown’s only public event of the day. She is seeking a four-year term after filling nearly four years of the term of Gov. John Kitzhaber, who resigned in February 2015.
Both candidates reported receiving new large campaign contributions, part of the record-breaking more than $35.7 million Brown and Buehler have raised since January 2017, including money they rolled over from their 2016 campaigns. That is twice the previous record of $17.7 million in the 2010 governor’s race between Kitzhaber and Republican Chris Dudley.
Brown reported two big donations on campaign finance reports that now run through Oct. 26. She received $800,000 from the Democratic Governors Association, bringing its total contribution to about $2.2 million. Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun control advocacy group backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, gave another $250,000, bringing the group’s total giving to Brown to just over $750,000.
In a flurry of recent contributions, the Oregon Republican Party’s giving to Knute Buehler topped $1 million through Oct. 26. Buehler received another $650,000 from the Republican Governors Association, bringing its total contributions to just under $3.4 million.
Because candidates have seven days to report campaign contributions and expenditures, Tuesday will be the last day of campaign finance reports before the final votes are counted.
Both candidates decried the expense of the campaign. Brown was introduced at the Eugene rally by Patrick Starnes, the Independent Party candidate for governor who suspended his campaign and endorsed Brown.
“During our whole campaign we talked about one issue — getting campaign finance reform to happen,” Starnes said. “Gov. Brown is committed to a solution.”
Brown said she would work for a constitutional amendment to limit campaign contributions, an effort that has been tried in the past without success.
Brown alluded to Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s $2.5 million in direct contributions to Buehler’s campaign as a symptom of a campaign financing system gone astray.
“One person shouldn’t be able to buy a megaphone so loud it drowns out all other voices,” Brown said.
Buehler lamented the nonstop negative advertising, calling out what he said were Brown’s personal attacks on him. Buehler said his own ads about Brown had been “truthful.”
Buehler declined to say what his plans will be after the election — win or lose — saying he and his team had a “laser-like focus on the election” until Tuesday night.
“We’ll probably take one day off, then roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
Brown said that she planned to follow the election returns Tuesday and then, whatever the outcome, get back to work on the state budget proposal she will submit to the Legislature.
— Reporter: 541-640-2750, firstname.lastname@example.org