Knute Buehler Wants Betsy Johnson to Be Governor—and He’s Wooing Other Big Donors | Willamette Week

The former GOP nominee for governor is directing his PAC money and fundraising ability toward the independent candidate.

HOW MUCH?

$10,000

WHO GOT IT?

State Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose)

WHO GAVE IT?

Friends of Knute Buehler

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Former state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) made a name for himself in Republican politics over the past decade. The orthopedic surgeon and Rhodes Scholar first ran statewide in 2012, losing to now-Gov. Kate Brown in the secretary of state’s race. After serving two terms in the Oregon House, he ran against Brown again in 2018 as the GOP nominee for governor, losing 50% to 44%. But in that campaign, Buehler showed himself to be a prodigious fundraiser, bringing in nearly $20 million, including $2.5 million from Nike co-founder Phil Knight. No individual has ever given that much in an Oregon election.

WHAT DOES BUEHLER SAY?

Buehler quit the GOP earlier this year after the Jan. 6 coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol. Now an unaffiliated voter, he’s a big believer in Johnson. “She’s the best person to be Oregon’s next governor,” he says. “She’s got the experience, the energy and the perspective to lead the state through very difficult times.” Buehler says that’s no slight to the members of his former party. “A lot of the people running on the GOP side are friends of mine and good people,” he says. “I just don’t think there’s a viable path for them, because Republican voter registration continues to decrease and the shadow of Trump provides barriers to any Republican winning statewide.” Buehler declined to answer whether he will ask Knight—the state’s richest man and a registered Republican—to support Johnson, saying only, “I will vigorously help Betsy raise money from all sources.”

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