Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson said Wednesday evening that he would not run for the Republican nomination for governor.

“The people of Oregon have placed their trust in me to be the best Secretary of State I can be, and I wouldn’t be able to meet that trust if I ran for governor so soon after my election,” Richardson said in a statement.

Richardson became the first Republican to win statewide office in over a decade when he was elected Secretary of State in November. Speculation immediately began that Richardson might run for governor in 2018. He was the GOP nominee in 2014, losing to Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat. He also served six terms in the Legislature.

Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, has announced he is running to replace Gov. Kate Brown. Buehler received a $500,000 donation from Nike co-founder Phil Knight. The large, early donation was seen as a message to other Republicans that the primary would be expensive.

Conservatives had courted Richardson as an alternative to Buehler, who is a moderate in the state Republican Party. Anti-abortion groups in particular hoped Richardson would get in the race and have now turned their attention to state House Minority Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte.

McLane’s office confirmed Wednesday that the lawmaker had met with a group of political activists who were interested in having McLane run as an alternative to Buehler.

McLane is “keeping his options open,” a GOP supporter in Salem said Wednesday. McLane had been named as a finalist for the job of U.S. Attorney for Oregon, but the Trump administration has a long backlog of offices to fill and has not made a decision.

The other possible Republican candidate is Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who lost a House race in November. She has created a fundraising committee to pay for early polling, but has not yet announced her plans.

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