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Democrats Raise Questions About Where GOP Candidate For Governor Lives

<p>Republican candidate for Oregon Governor Knute Buehler speaks about his plans for health care at press conference in Bend on Wednesday, July 18, 2018.</p>

Emily Cureton

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Republican candidate for Oregon Governor Knute Buehler speaks about his plans for health care at press conference in Bend on Wednesday, July 18, 2018.

A day after a poll showed the governor’s race possibly tightening, the Democratic Party of Oregon asked the secretary of state to investigate whether GOP gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler is violating the state Constitution by basing himself out of Tualatin, Oregon, while campaigning.  

Buehler, who is currently a state lawmaker representing Central Oregon in the statehouse, mentioned in an interview that he has moved from his district in Bend to Tualatin.

Mark Mason on 1190 KEX in Portland opens an interview with Buehler by saying, “Knute Buehler of Tualatin now.”

Buehler responds, “Of Tualatin now, yeah, just down the street.”

“No longer Bend?” Mason asked.

“Yeah, and soon to be a resident of Salem,” Buehler replies.

Jeanne Atkins, the chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon, said Buehler’s admission that he lives in Tualatin is a violation of the state Constitution, which requires a state lawmaker to inhabit the district they have been appointed to represent.

Buehler put his “political ambitions above the people who he was elected to serve,” the Democratic party chair said in a statement.

“Once he won re-election to his House seat in 2016, he turned his back on his constituents. He hasn’t had a town hall since April of 2017 and has done little to serve his constituents since he decided to run for governor,” Atkins said.

Buehler’s campaign called the complaint a desperate attack. A statement from his campaign said Buehler has a temporary apartment to stay in while he campaigns in the Portland and Willamette Valley area. But the couple still own their home in Bend, where his wife spends the bulk of her time, where they are registered to vote, pay their property taxes and where their cars are registered, the statement from his campaign reads.

“This is a nonsense, desperate attack from a campaign that cannot defend Kate Brown’s record of failed leadership – from schools to foster care,” Buehler said.

Although there are no residency requirements for governor, Buehler’s campaign points out that Brown also maintains two homes. When she became governor, Brown made it clear she was leaving her home in Portland to move into the governor’s mansion, known as Mahonia Hall.

Brown’s office said in the past two years, since July of 2016, the governor has spent 325 nights in Salem and 211 in Portland. In 2016, Democrats filed a similar eligibility complaint against Republican Rich Vial, saying he lived out of his district and was ineligible to run for the contested seat.

The Elections Division, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive, declared the complaint “moot.”

Atkins said if the Elections Division were to find the Buehler complaint valid, another Republican would be appointed to fill out the remainder of Buehler’s term until January.

The Secretary of State’s Office said they are following “normal complaint processing procedures.”

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Lauren Dake is a political reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. Before OPB, Lauren spent nearly a decade working as a print reporter. She’s covered politics and rural issues in Oregon and Washington.