As Knute Buehler’s campaign continues to resonate with voters, Oregon could be the next blue state to elect a Republican governor, writes Mark Hemingway in the Weekly Standard. Hemingway profiled Buehler’s campaign to become the first Republican governor of Oregon in over three decades, and notes that the race has become “surprisingly competitive.”
Buehler is running a focused, policy-oriented campaign to solve the issues ignored or made worse by incumbent Democrat Governor Kate Brown. As Hemingway notes, “Basic law and order issues in Portland, along with a raft of new state taxes and regulations, have outraged Oregon’s business community,” while “Other significant issues, such as education, have undermined confidence in Democratic rule of the state.”
Despite the Democrat registration advantage and Oregon’s status as a deep-blue state, there is broad agreement that Kate Brown and her party have failed at basic management, leading to an opening for Knute Buehler to flip Democrat voters red this November.
“Speaking to people in the Portland suburbs, where Buehler will have to win over a significant number of Democratic voters to prevail, the enthusiasm for Buehler seems real,” concludes Hemingway.
Weekly Standard: Surprisingly Competitive
In some respects, Buehler’s success shouldn’t be too surprising. Until about two decades ago, the state was largely governed by liberal Republicans and centrist Democrats, before massive out-of-state population influxes—including lots of progressive Californians—to the Portland metro area shifted the political landscape. Oregon has about 4.1 million residents, and 2.35 million live in the Portland region, so the entire state’s politics have moved dramatically leftward along with the growth of the urban population. This has created tension in state politics, because Portland isn’t just a liberal city anymore. It rivals San Francisco in progressive extremism, and this is decidedly at odds with the politics and culture of the rest of the state.