PORTLAND, Ore. – Nike founder Phil Knight cut a check for $1 million to Republican candidate for governor Knute Buehler, according to campaign finance records posted late Wednesday night.
The donation is the single largest to an individual candidate in the history of Oregon politics and goes a long way to helping Buehler close the fundraising gap with his opponent, Kate Brown.
The Willamette Week first reported Knight’s donation last week citing sources and Wednesday’s public filing confirmed the news.
Campaign finance records show that Knight made the donation on August 13. Campaigns only need to report donations monthly.
Buehler’s campaign manager Bryan Reed said the campaign has a policy to not comment about contributions.
The million-dollar contribution came almost exactly one year after Knight helped kickstart Buehler’s campaign with a $500,000 donation on August 14, 2017.
After the 2017 donation, Buehler had put out a written statement saying he was “thrilled to have Phil Knight – one of Oregon’s most influential citizens and innovative business leaders – on our team.”
Despite the huge infusion from Knight, the Buehler campaign still reports having less cash-on-hand than the Brown campaign. Buehler reports having $1,766,461 in the bank compared to $4,342,053 for Brown, according to campaign finance records.
Many people will be watching to see if Knight’s donation inspires other big-name donors to open their wallets.
“You’ve got to expect if there’s going to be million-and-a-half, there’s going to be more that will follow,” said KGW political analyst Len Bergstein. “If you are Kate Brown’s campaign you’ve got to say, OK, there’s going to be more large contributions coming to him.”
Brown has received some large donations of her own, including $500,000 from Emily’s List on August 10.