Top donors: Surprising names behind Knute Buehler's gubernatorial campaign

The 2018 general election hasn't even reached the year-to-go countdown point and already, it's going to cost someone a lot of money.

That "someone" is likely Gov. Kate Brown or her prospective Republican opponent Knute Buehler. And, by a lot of money, well, let's just say it could take eight digits to capture Oregon's gubernatorial seat.

SLIDESHOW: The 25 biggest contributors to Knute Buehler

Jim Moore, the director of the Tom McCall Center for Policy Innovation at Pacific University Oregon, said the race could generate as many political donations as the 2010 John Kitzhaber-Chris Dudley battle in which the Democrat Kitzhaber narrowly prevailed.

Dudley raised around $10 million that year while Kitzhaber raised some $7 million.

While it's hard to say whether any candidate will raise quite as much as Dudley, both candidates are off to a roaring start. Buehler has so far collected $1.68 million in cash, outraising Brown so far by about $130,000.

While the Republican state senator from Bend was buoyed by Phil Knight's $500,000 contribution, his showing is strong in a state where his party must hustle to catch up to strong Democratic bases in Portland and Central Oregon.

"He definitely needs to outraise her to get his message out," said Moore. "He's more unknown in the state, and he needs to explain why voters should change from an incumbent governor. It's both a complicated and fascinating message."

What Buehler, who's known for taking an active role on several health care matters, does have going for him is that he's viewed as a moderate.

"It'll definitely be a close race in terms of raising money, but he'd have to convert a lot of votes to win," Moore said. "

We crunched a few of the numbers for both candidates (our Brown piece will run Wednesday). For Buehler, we took at look at contributions collected by the Knute for Governor committee, which emerged in August. More than half are individuals who run some of the state's biggest and best-known businesses. About one-quarter come from businesses themselves.

Click through on the photo above to learn who's, some 54 weeks before next year's general election, given the most money to Buehler.

The Portland Business Journal is a KGW News partner.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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