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Pierce, Brown ready to face off in governor's race

TRIBUNE PHOTO: PARIS ACHEN - Salem physician celebrated his victory over tech businessman Allen Alley Tuesday evening in the GOP gubernatorial primary.Salem physician Bud Pierce celebrated his victory as the Republican nominee for governor, beating Lake Oswego tech businessman Allen Alley in Tuesday evening's primary by a wide margin.

By 9 p.m., Pierce had 46 percent of the vote and Alley with 30 percent of the vote. Three other candidates held smaller percentage of the vote.

Pierce said the victory was "the result of incredible teamwork and the hard work of many fine people."

"Oregonians are tired of empty political promises and puppet leaders who are at the beck and call of powerful interests in our state enriching the connected and powerful and impoverishing the people," Pierce told supporters in Salem. "Selma and I have listened to the people's hopes and dreams and aspirations and we are committed to helping To make those dreams come true."

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Lake Oswego tech businessman Allen Alley met with supporters in Portland before conceding to Salem physician Bud Pierce in the GOP gubernatorial nomination race.Allen Alley said Tuesday evening that he would endorse Pierce.

“I would like to thank the citizens of Oregon for supporting me,” Alley said. “I have had some amazing experiences walking across the state and meeting the people of the state, and I had a terrific message to juxtapose against Kate Brown’s."

Alley said Pierce’s campaign outspent his and traveled more around the state. “He ran a better primary race, and the results show he ran a better primary race,” Alley said.

A full-house crowd in a reception hall at Salem’s Grand Hotel erupted into cheers when the election results appeared on multiple screens in the room. Supporters chanted Pierce’s name as the candidate came into the room, shaking hands and smiling.

Sen. Jackie Winters, R-Salem, took the podium while Pierce spoke to media in the hallway. “We’re going to take back Mahonia Hall,” Winters declared to the crowd.

Ed Davis, 73, of Salem is normally an unaffiliated voter, but registered as a Republican to vote for Pierce.

“I love how he is reaching out to the middle,” Davis said. “Most Oregonians, whether they’re Democrats, Republicans or unaffiliated, are in the middle, yet our system gives the extremes too much voice. I like the fact that he is reaching out to all parties.”

Brown looks forward to 'talking about vision'

COURTESY PHOTO - Gov. Kate Brown cruised to a big victory Tuesday night. Brown says she looks forward to campaigning against Pierce.In the race for the Democratic nomination, Gov. Kate Brown had captured 84 percent of the early returns. Ashland physician Julian Bell received 6 percent, Springfield professional driver Chet Chance had about 1 percent, Walmart produce team member Kevin Forsythe of Newport had 2 percent, Portland home care worker Steve Johnson got 1.5 percent and Portland environmental engineer and attorney Dave Stauffer had 2 percent.

Liz Accola Meunier, a spokeswoman for Brown’s campaign, said the governor had been focused on governing and serving the state but would now begin ramping up her campaign to defeat Pierce.

“Tonight, we are happy with the results on our side, and the governor is really looking forward to talking about her vision for moving the state forward and looking forward to having a chance to talk about her vision, and we believe when voters gets a chance to compare her to her opponent that they will choose her,” Meunier said.

Brown was widely expected to win the nomination and battle for election to the job she's held since former Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned in February 2015.

With experience in state government and as a candidate for statewide office, Republican Alley, 61, was the presumed frontrunner in the race for the nomination. The Lake Oswego businessman served as deputy chief of staff for former Gov. Ted Kulongoski and chaired the Oregon Republican Party.

But Pierce, 59, invested more than $1 million into his campaign to reach out to voters. When the Salem oncologist entered the race, he had almost no name recognition and no experience as an elected official. Alley, in contrast, had sought the GOP nomination for governor in 2010 and for state treasurer in 2008.

By early May, it appeared Pierce’s fortunes might have changed. A poll by DHM Research done May 6 to 9 showed Pierce leading Alley 25 percent to 22 percent, but 36 percent of the 324 likely voters who were polled indicated they were still undecided. About 9 percent supported other contenders in the race. The margin of error ranged from 4.9 percent to 5.7 percent.

“The poll shows a lack of interest more than anything else,” John Horvick, political director of DHM Research. As a comparison, only 19 percent of those same respondents said they were undecided about the presidential race.