SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A Republican lawmaker from the mountain town of Bend announced his candidacy for governor Thursday, aiming to unseat Democratic Gov. Kate Brown in 2018.
Rep. Knute Buehler said on Twitter he is "ready to bring change with education, budget and economic reforms."
He told editors of The Bulletin, Bend's daily newspaper, on Wednesday that he planned to announce he was running. A website has also been activated asking for donations of as little as $10 and beyond $1,000. Buehler said retirement pay formulas should be reworked in the pension system for state employees, which has been draining state coffers, and the level of health care payments reformed.
The Senate Republican Office this week said the state's pension debt has surged to $52 billion.
"Oregon's ticking time bomb known as PERS is on the brink of exploding," the Republicans said, referring to the Public Employees Retirement System.
The Legislature is dominated by Democrats. The highest GOP state official is Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, who occupies the second-highest office in the state.
Brown sprung to the governorship from that position in 2015 when then Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned amid a state ethics investigation into alleged influence-peddling by his fiancee. Brown beat oncologist Bud Pierce, the GOP candidate, by 7 percentage points in the election last November to serve out the remaining two years of Kitzhaber's term.
Buehler, an orthopedic surgeon, would need to win the Republican primary to run for the state's highest office in November 2018.