SALEM — Social conservatives are searching for an “Anybody But Buehler” candidate to seek the Republican nomination for governor.
Rep. Knute Buehler in August declared his intention to run for governor. However, the orthopedic surgeon from Bend presents a moral dilemma to some social conservatives, because he has previously taken a pro-choice stance, according to political operatives close to the party.
That conundrum has yielded the quest by pro-life conservatives for “Anybody But Buehler,” they said. One source close to the party said people with interests in timber, agriculture and technology also are looking for an alternative to Buehler.
Republicans may face a choice between a candidate who reflects some of their conservative social values, such as opposition to abortion, and one who may hold broader appeal to Oregon’s majority liberal electorate.
Oregon Right to Life and some other conservative organizations have sought out other candidates to seek the nomination. They have talked to radio talk show host Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer, as a potential Right to Life candidate.
Post said he is considering a bid for governor but has yet to make a decision.
“The door is not closed,” Post said.
An architect of a referendum to repeal parts of a plan to fund the Oregon’s version of Medicaid appeared to be considering an election bid for governor.
Rep. Cedric Hayden, who represents rural Lane County in the Legislature, recently paid polling firm Clout Research, which is registered as Wenzel Strategies, $19,250 and made about $50,000 in loans to himself, according to the state’s campaign finance database.
Hayden is a chief petitioner for Ballot Measure 101, which would allow voters to decide whether to keep in place a mix of assessments on health care providers.
The dentist-by-profession did not deny or confirm whether he is considering a gubernatorial run, during an interview with the Pamplin/EO Capital Bureau Friday. Hayden said he is focused on repealing the health care funding plan, which include several assessments on providers. Voters will decide on the ballot measure Jan. 23.
Political operatives close to the party said earlier this week Hayden is likely to forgo a run, after receiving poll results on how he would fare against other GOP candidates.
Another option for social conservatives is Greg Wooldridge, a former commander of the Blue Angels, who is reportedly considering joining the race and has met with several former gubernatorial candidates and political consultants.
Woolridge is familiar to conservative circles, where he has served as a delegate to the National Republican Convention, but is lesser known outside of his party.
He would run as a conservative alternate to Buehler’s more moderate platform, said one political strategist.
Bend businessman Sam Carpenter last week announced his intention to run for the Republican nomination, citing the absence of a candidate with a more conservative agenda. Carpenter has styled his platform after that of President Donald Trump. But Carpenter’s chances of victory could be diminished by his lack of experience in the political sphere.