Oregon campaign trail: Where do candidates visit and why?

A comparison of campaign stops by gubernatorial candidates Gov. Kate Brown and Dr. Bud Pierce shows two different approaches for winning the election.

Brown, the Democratic incumbent, has campaigned mostly in larger Oregon cities where the electorate is concentrated, according to a list of official stops provided by her campaign. Brown has also campaigned in New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia.

Pierce, a Salem cancer doctor and Republican, has made five times more official campaign stops than Brown, including visits to small, rural communities. He's made two out-of-state stops: one to Stevenson, Washington and the other to Aspen, Colorado for a Republican Governors Association conference.

A spokeswoman for Brown's campaign said in a written statement that the nature of Brown's position as governor means she visits with Oregonians across the state. Her interactions with citizens aren't limited to official campaign stops, the spokeswoman said.

Calendars detailing Brown's work as governor — which is separate from campaign activities — show she has made dozens of stops across the state since taking office in 2015, including to small and rural communities.

The different campaign strategies illustrate the varying demands on Brown, a well-known incumbent, and Pierce, a newcomer attempting to unseat her.

The campaigns are playing out in "classic" form to date, said Dr. Jim Moore, professor and director of the Tom McCall Center for Policy Research at Pacific University.

Moore said Brown has name recognition on her side, which means she can stick to Oregon's urban centers where most of her likely voters live.

"Brown's acting like an incumbent. She basically has nailed down 50 percent of the electorate if she sticks to the big towns," Moore said.

For Pierce, campaigning in small towns is important because despite winning the Republican primary handily, he needs to reach as many voters as possible, Moore said.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Pierce said that although he's stopped in many small towns, nearly all of his future campaign efforts will center around "battleground counties" — especially Clackamas, Washington and Multnomah Counties.

"That's where the race is going to be won or lost," Pierce said.

Fundraising also plays a key role in where candidates stop. Brown's stops to California and the East Coast included fundraisers, according to her campaign.

Candidates for statewide office are increasingly fundraising out of state because the cost of running a campaign has increased in recent years, said Christopher Larimer, political science professor and candidate behavior specialist at the University of Northern Iowa.

"The cost of state politics is going up so much that I think this is going to be the case more and more," Larimer said.

Brown's campaign has spent at least $150,000 on airfare and lodging since she announced her election bid. The result: Her campaign has collected nearly $1 million in out of state contributions. To date, Brown has raised more than $2.1 million in cash and services.

Pierce's campaign has spent at least $102,000 on travel and related expenses.

Notable among the expenses are at least 10 flights on private jets worth a combined $25,000 gifted to Pierce by Salem businessman Dick Withnell of Withnell Motor Company. Reached by phone, Withnell said he owns a partial stake a charter flights company, which is how he gifted the plane rides.

Pierce said the fights have allowed him to campaign in the state's far-flung communities while remaining a practicing physician.

Pierce, who is part owner of a private cancer clinic, self funded his campaign through the primary. He's spent more than $1 million of his own money on the campaign, records show. His campaign has raised more than $900,000 in cash and services from other donors, including $167,000 from out of state contributors.

And, despite traveling to the Republican Governor's Association conference in Aspen, Pierce has not received money or an endorsement from the group.

Brown and Pierce are scheduled for five debates beginning in September. The first will take place Sept. 24 in Bend and focus solely on rural issues. The election is Nov. 8.

Send questions, comments or news tips to gfriedman2@statesmanjournal.com or 503-399-6653. Follow on Twitter @GordonRFriedman.

Campaign stops by Gov. Kate Brown:

Portland, Salem, Bend, Pendleton, Medford, Eugene, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Grants Pass, Wilsonville, McMinnville, Corvallis, Roseburg. Out of state: New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C., San Diego, Philadelphia.

Campaign stops by Dr. Bud Pierce:

Albany, Ashland, Astoria, Aurora, Baker City, Beaverton, Bend, Canby, Carlton, Cascade Locks, Christmas Valley, Clackamas, Coos Bay, Corbett, Cornelius, Corvallis, Dallas, Dayton, Eugene, Fairview, Florence, Grants Pass, Gresham, Hillsboro, Hood River, Independence, Keizer, King City, Klamath Falls, La Grande, Lake Oswego, Lakeview, Lebanon, Lincoln City, Lyons, McMinnville, Medford, Monmouth, Mt. Angel, Newberg, North Bend, Ontario, Oregon City, Pendleton, Portland, Powell Butte, Rainier, Redmond, Redmond, Roseburg, Salem, Sandy, Seaside, Silverton, Sisters, Springfield, St. Paul, Sunriver, Tigard, Tillamook, Troutdale, Tualatin, Turner, Warrenton, Welches, West Linn, Wilsonville, Woodburn. Out of state: Aspen, CO, Stevenson, WA.


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