Former State Rep. and GOP gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler announced on Tuesday he will run for Congress, seeking to replace outgoing Rep. Greg Walden, who held the 2nd District seat for nearly 20 years.
The Bend surgeon made the announcement in a Facebook video saying “we need less politics and more conservative leadership in Congress.”
“Many Oregonians are tired of being disrespected or ignored by Portland liberals and elite D.C. politicians,” he said in a statement. “In Congress, I will defend the values, rights and jobs threatened by the powerful arm of big government. I will be a conservative voice for the people and place I call home.”
Walden, the lone Republican in Oregon’s congressional delegation, made a surprise announcement in late October that he wasn’t running for a 12th term, throwing a huge district covering a conservative part of the state – Crook, Jefferson and Deschutes counties – up for grabs.
Almost immediately after the Walden bombshell, Buehler’s name popped up as a possible candidate. And he wasted no time before releasing a statement saying he was “giving consideration to seeking the GOP nomination” and was talking with his wife, family and supporters about how he can best serve the people of Congressional District 2.
Buehler served two terms representing District 54 in the Oregon House, winning elections in 2014 and 2016. He lost his gubernatorial bid to Democrat Kate Brown in 2018. He was also the Republican nominee for Secretary of State in 2012, also losing to Brown.
In his campaign for Governor, Buehler made expanding economic opportunities to all of Oregon a centerpiece of his campaign.
“Oregon’s rural urban divide isn’t an immovable feature of the natural landscape. It is an artificial divide created by politicians each day in Salem, Portland and Washington, D.C. In Congress, I will never stop fighting for Oregon’s traditional jobs in farming, ranching and timber,” Buehler said. “I will work for limited government, secure borders and stand firm against government takeover of health care.”
Born and raised in Roseburg, Buehler grew up working in the woods and driving a Pepsi delivery truck, according to the campaign. He earned his undergraduate degree from Oregon State, played baseball and was a Rhodes Scholar. After attending Oxford University, Buehler earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He and his wife Patty, an eye surgeon, have been married for 29 years and have two grown children.
Buehler joins a growing field of candidates seeking the congressional seat.
One day after Walden’s announcement, Republican Oregon State Sen. Cliff Bentz of Ontario declared his candidacy for Walden’s seat.
Since then, a handful of others have thrown their name into the ring including Democrats John P. Holm, Raz Mason, and Isabella Tibbetts, and Republicans Jeff Smith, Kenneth Medenbach, Mark R. Roberts and Jason Atkinson.
Tuesday, Bentz released a statement after Buehler’s announcement.
“I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Buehler. We worked together in the State Assembly for four years,” he said. “While we have agreed on many things over the years, we have very different opinions on issues of importance to the citizens of Oregon Congressional District 2.”
Local GOP leaders say Buehler enters the race with something other candidates don’t have.
“He has name recognition now in the state of Oregon due to the fact he’s run for other elected positions,” said Michael Kusinska, Deschutes Republican Party Chairman. “And I think that’s very important in any election that you have name recognition. The fact that he’s from Deschutes County and Deschutes is one of the most populated counties in that district I think may give him an advantage if he makes it through the primary.”
Buehler made headlines earlier this month when he decided to dump campaign contributions from Gordon Sondland after sexual misconduct allegations against the Portland businessman-turned-diplomat surfaced last week.
Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union who is embroiled in the impeachment probe against President Donald Trump, has called the claims of unwanted touching and kissing “untrue.”
Buehler said he and his wife were disturbed by the allegations.
He planned to donate $22,500, the same amount Sondland had donated to Buehler’s gubernatorial campaign, to charity.