SALEM - Bend businessman Sam Carpenter has opened a campaign fund-raising committee for a potential gubernatorial bid in 2018.
Carpenter, 67, said the committee represents only a reconnaisance effort to determine whether to seek the state's highest office.
He said would run as a more conservative, pro-Trump alternative to fellow Bend resident Rep. Knute Buehler, a surgeon who plans to run for the GOP nomination.
"I am the opposite of crossing the aisle. I want to take over both sides of the aisle," Carpenter said in an interview with the Pamplin Media/EO Media Group Capital Bureau early Friday, Sept. 1.
Buehler declared his candidacy Aug. 3 but cannot officially file for election until Sept. 7. Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, is expected to file for reelection but has yet to formally declare. Carpenter said he would decide later in the fall whether to challenge the governor.
He said his decision depends on whether another candidate supportive of President Trump's agenda enters the race.
"This is my responsibility if nobody else is going to step up," he said.
Buehler, a moderate conservative who authored legislation to improve women's access to birth control, has repeatedly criticized the actions of the nation's president.
Carpenter filed paperwork to open the campaign fund-raising committee Wednesday, Aug. 30. He had reported no contributions as of early Friday, Sept. 1.
Carpenter, CEO of Centratel national telephone answering service, unsuccessfully sought to unseat Democrat U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden in 2016. He also made a short bid for the GOP nomination to challenge Democrat U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley before dropping out and endorsing Jason Conger. Pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby edged out Conger for the Republican nomination but ultimately lost to Merkley in November 2014.
Carpenter has authored two books on business management. He has never held elected office.