It’s been a long time since a Republican won a race for governor in Oregon — the last time was 1982. Republicans should give Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, a chance to put an end to that Democratic winning streak by voting for him in the May primary.
Buehler, 53, is an orthopedic surgeon who lives in Bend. Even in a Legislature controlled by Democrats, he has proved he could get things done. His nine opponents do not have similar proof they can make a difference in government at the state level.
It was Buehler who called on the state to do more to help foster children in danger. A searing state audit in 2018 found long-term problems in the state’s system, including inadequate staff. Buehler called for a commitment of $50 million to hire staff and a rapid-improvement team to swiftly implement other needed changes. A campaign adviser for Gov. Kate Brown said Buehler was only doing that because it’s an election year. Days later, Brown pushed for $14.5 million to hire additional staff.
It was Buehler who was the driving force behind the legislation to allow pharmacies to provide birth control pills and hormonal patches over the counter. That’s a Republican leading the state on an important issue for women’s health. And it was Buehler who championed the bill to give public and nonprofit employees who act as whistleblowers more protection.
On so many other issues, he shows that leadership. He doesn’t want to let the excesses of the state’s Public Employees Retirement System and its $25 billion shortfall continue to rob classrooms of money. And he is committed to doing something serious about it while protecting the incomes of current retirees. Buehler would require public employees to contribute to their retirement and stop some of the obscene monthly payouts to future retirees, capping them at $100,000 or so.
The track record of the state’s education system is terribly uneven. Some children do get great teachers and have a great education. But Oregon also has one of the worst graduation rates in the country. Buehler aims to encourage more school choice, give students individualized plans for success and expand technical and dual-credit opportunities.
When we spoke to him, he also emphasized changes he would like to see to grow the state’s economy, particularly the rural economy. First and foremost, he wants to hold the line on new taxes. He opposes the hundreds of millions in new taxes proposed under a cap-and-invest scheme. He supports putting more money into a state rainy-day fund, so Oregonians don’t face proposals for new taxes every time there’s an economic downturn.
Notable among Buehler’s opponents are Sam Carpenter, of Bend, and Greg Wooldridge, of Beaverton. Carpenter, 68, is an entrepreneur, business owner and author. Wooldridge, 71, led the Navy’s Blue Angels team. Their views are not remarkably different from Buehler’s on many issues. But Buehler’s record and leadership make him the candidate to support. Vote Knute Buehler.