Brown Gets Large Donations from Centene and ONA; Cambia Backs Buehler

Rep. Knute Buehler has spent $1.3 million in the past eight weeks as he works to fend off challengers Greg Wooldridge, backed by Right to Life, and Sam Carpenter, who has the support of former Senate candidate and Oregon Medical Association past president Monica Wehby.

Centene Corporation and the Oregon Nurses Association are spending big to help Democratic Gov. Kate Brown get elected, while Republican state Rep. Knute Buehler of Bend has picked up the support of Cambia Health Solutions as he tries to fend off two spirited challengers in the upcoming May 15 primary election.

Centene, the for-profit insurance company that owns the Trillium CCO in Eugene, gave Brown $25,000, while the ONA has donated $20,000. Other big-dollar figures for Brown come from Hungarian billionaire and Democratic megadonor George Soros, who gave her $25,000 and $30,000 from Samantha Richardson, a Lake Oswego plastics fortune heiress. Brown also received $75,000 from union group the Laborers’ Political League.

Brown’s campaign has raised an additional $672,000 since March 13, and she spent $253,000 in that time period. Brown has raised $3.8 million since the start of 2017.

Meanwhile, Buehler’s campaign picked up $5,000 from Cambia, one of the few healthcare sector players to endorse the orthopedic surgeon. The big money supporting Buehler comes from Hampton Lumber, with $25,000 and $20,000 from Scott Campbell, the proprietor of the Silvies Valley Ranch golf resort south of John Day. He also received $16,100 of in-kind contributions from Pacific Realty Associates.

Buehler raised $431,000 since March 13 but has spent $1.3 million in that time as he works to claim the Republican slot on the November ballot. He has raised $3.3 million total since the start of 2017.

He has two opponents that have received sizable funding -- Sam Carpenter, a Bend businessman running as a Trump-style populist and Navy veteran Greg Wooldridge, a social conservative with the backing of Oregon Right to Life.

Wooldridge has the support of at least one of Buehler’s House Republican Caucus members, Rep. Bill Post of Keizer, but he has otherwise had to count heavily on out-of-state money for his campaign, including $100,000 from California’s Daybreak Investments and $25,000 from Nevada trucking firm Wingate Enterprises as well as $10,000 from Charlotte Lucas of Lucas Oil Company in California. Wooldrige has raised $175,000 since March 13, for a total of $233,000.

Carpenter, on the other hand, is largely self-funding his campaign, havling loaned his campaign $122,000, and raising a total of $251,000. A surprising supporter is Dr. Monica Wehby, a 2014 Republican U.S. Senate candidate, who has $5,000 of in-kind contributions to Carpenter.

Buehler is seen as the heavy favorite, yet rather than focus his energy on Brown, he has had to take out negative radio ads, attacking Carpenter for a history of late tax payments.

Brown has two opponents on the May 15 ballot -- Eugene writer and environmental advocate Candace Neville and conservative Democrat Ed Jones, who owns a Redmond excavation company. But neither has reported any campaign contributions.

Reach Chris Gray at [email protected]