Oregon Catalyst Survey Shows No GOP Frontrunner

An online survey by a conservative GOP political group indicates Secretary of State Dennis Richardson is an early leader in the field of possible Republican gubernatorial candidates in 2018, but no one really can be called a frontrunner.

An online survey by a conservative GOP political group indicates Secretary of State Dennis Richardson is an early leader in the field of possible Republican gubernatorial candidates in 2018, but no one really can be called a frontrunner.

The 2018 Oregon gubernatorial election is a long way off, but political jostling has already begun. A 500-respondent online survey conducted by a conservative political group indicates there is no clear Republican frontrunner to challenge Governor Kate Brown.

According to Oregon Catalyst, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson holds the pole position with 29 percent, followed at 23 percent by Rep. Bill Post, who represents Keizer, St. Paul and Newberg.

Bend Rep. Knute Buehler, who has been positioning himself for a 2018 gubernatorial run, weighs in with only 9 percent of Republicans who participated in the survey. Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who says she is exploring a gubernatorial run, attracted 8 percent. Bud Pierce, the unsuccessful GOP challenger to Brown in the 2016 election, appeals to 12 percent.

“The field is much more divided than we anticipated,” writes Reagan Knapp of the survey conducted from June 9-18. “No one is running away with the nomination at this point, which means anyone who can raise the money to get noticed has a chance to win.”

Rep. Bill Post could be a serious contender with strong support from conservative Republicans.

Rep. Bill Post could be a serious contender with strong support from conservative Republicans.

Richardson “is an obvious choice to run,” says the Oregon Catalyst, because he has arguably the highest name ID, has won a statewide race and could have a leg up in fundraising. He runs strongly in Southern Oregon, where he is from, and among older GOP voters.

Rep. Knute Buehler from Bend may be the favorite of Republican moderates.

Rep. Knute Buehler from Bend may be the favorite of Republican moderates.

Post has been accumulating a conservative GOP following while serving in the Oregon House. The survey indicates his support is strongest, as you would expect, in the Mid-Willamette Valley.

Buehler’s bid is bolstered by his more moderate political positioning and his experience running against Brown for secretary of state in 2012. The survey indicates he gets high marks from younger GOP voters between 18 and 34.

Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer has expressed interest in running and polls best in the Portland metropolitan area and among younger voters.

Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer has expressed interest in running and polls best in the Portland metropolitan area and among younger voters.

Pierce’s support is hold-over from his 2016 campaign, which got off to a start, but then imploded. While his support stretches across the spectrum of Republican voters, he doesn’t soar with any of them. Forer gubernatorial candidate Allen Alley was included in the survey, but he got only 4 percent of support. Alley hasn’t given any indication he plans to run in 2018.

Chavez-DeRemer lost a race for an Oregon House seat in 2016, but among the group of hopefuls holds the most appeal in the Portland metropolitan area. She also received 35 percent of the younger voters participating in the survey.

The results from the Oregon Catalyst survey can’t be taken too literally. The Catalyst is a blog that has a strong conservative following. Plus, participation was promoted via the social media sites of the candidates included in the survey. “We think this poll [of self-described Republicans] is more accurate than a straw poll, but still less accurate than a traditional poll conducted via telephone,” Knapp notes.