SALEM, Ore. -- Gov. Kate Brown is running to finish out the remaining two years of a four-year term vacated by John Kitzhaber, but the subdued tenor of her campaign belies the fact that she faces a number of primary challengers.

Yet her campaign is raising capital in the quiet before November's general election.

Brown will almost certainly secure the Democratic nomination, said Jim Moore, professor and director of the Tom McCall Center for Policy Innovation at Pacific University.

Brown, a long-time legislator who was elected Secretary of State in 2008 and reelected in 2012, has the upper hand in the primary because of experience and her incumbency, Moore said.

"What we see when an incumbent runs for reelection in Oregon is they get no real competition from within their own party," he said.

And though Brown is fundraising for the general election — her campaign is hosting a fundraiser May 19, two days after the primary — the public leg of her campaign is off to a slow start, like that of the prominent GOP contenders.

Hanging back to save campaign cash is prudent of the Brown campaign since it's likely looking to secure a "war chest" in case something goes awry heading into the general election, Moore said. But Brown is sitting tight for different reasons than the Republicans, who have to introduce themselves to voters ahead of the primary, Moore said.

Brown has raised more than $2.8 million since taking office in 2015 and $891,000 in 2016 alone, according to campaign finance records.

Her campaign has more than $1.1 million in cash on hand, a valuable asset come time to buy advertising and fund campaign events. (Her campaign would not immediately release a list of scheduled events.)

More than $111,000 has been spent on mailers, $76,000 on GBA Strategies (a political consulting firm with offices in four states), $56,000 on a website and $45,000 to hire campaign manager Carol Butler.

Only one candidate is actively trying to build his own war chest and hasn't come close to Brown. Julian Bell has raised about $33,000 so far this year while spending $57,000, leaving him with just $3,759 on hand.

Candidates Steve Johnson, Kevin Forsythe and Chet Chance have raised no money, at least according to their campaign filings to date. Candidate Dave Stauffer has just one contribution of $5.

Oregon's primary election is May 17. The deadline to register to vote is April 26. To register, visit the office of your local elections clerk or the Secretary of State's website, sos.Oregon.gov.

gfriedman2@statesmanjournal.com, 503-399-6653. Follow on Twitter @GordonRFriedman


Democratic candidates for governor:

Kate Brown, incumbent
Julian Bell
Dave Stauffer
The following three Democratic candidates declared their intention to run for governor, but are not listed in the state voter's pamphlet:

Chet Chance
Kevin Forsythe
Steve Johnson

Independent candidate for governor, as listed in the state voter's pamphlet:

Cliff Thomason