Secretary of State
Knute Buehler (Republican)
Incumbent Kate Brown made a grab for headlines and credibility last month when she pledged to limit her expenditures in this race to $1 million. Brown’s proposed limit was late, insincere and ineffective, befitting a tenure in which she has often seemed a step behind. She probably wouldn’t have been able to top $1 million anyway, making her pledge hollow.
Although in 2008 she pledged to support a constitutional amendment limiting campaign contributions (Oregon is one of just four states with no limits), Brown, a Democrat, has not done that or anything meaningful about stemming the flood of money into politics.
It’s one of her many failures in this job.
She refused to investigate Charlie Hales’ Washington-residence duplicity, and she rescheduled the Bureau of Labor and Industries election so incumbent Brad Avakian, a fellow Democrat who faced a difficult re-election race, could delay his day of reckoning until November, when turnout would help him more. Brown denies a partisan sop to Avakian, but her credibility is badly damaged.
She’s now the one in jeopardy, facing a serious opponent in Knute Buehler.
Buehler, a Bend orthopedic surgeon and Rhodes scholar, does have a record of trying to limit political spending. He was a chief petitioner of a 1994 ballot measure that imposed campaign limits (later struck down).
He is a moderate (including on abortion rights) who has twice worked to pass nonpartisan primaries. Buehler lacks Brown’s 20 years of political experience. But he’s been successful not only as a surgeon but as a medical entrepreneur and partner in a 170-person medical office. Some of his statements about the security of Oregon’s vote-by-mail system give us pause, but we’re satisfied Buehler deserves a chance to bring integrity back to the secretary of state’s office.
There are two other candidates worth noting: Pacific Green Party candidate Seth Woolley is a whip-smart government wonk. Progressive Party candidate Bob Wolfe is in the race to protest what he says is Brown’s disqualification of otherwise valid signatures gathered by him and other initiative petitioners. (Wolfe was circulating a marijuana-legalization initiative this year and Brown fined him $65,000, alleging his campaign illegally paid signature gatherers.)
Wolfe is essentially saying vote for anyone but Brown. We put it this way: Vote Buehler.
What superpower would Buehler choose? “I’d like to fly.”