Nike co-founder Phil Knight and the Republican Governors Association poured another $2 million into the campaign of state Rep. Knute Buehler in the past week for his challenge of Democratic incumbent Gov. Kate Brown.
The $1 million check from Knight brings his overall contributions to Buehler $2.5 million, about 26 percent of the Republican candidate’s overall campaign funds. That is a record amount to an Oregon political campaign by an individual.
The governors’ association contributions now total over $2 million, or nearly 21 percent of Buehler’s campaign funds.
As of Wednesday night, the campaign had yet to report either of the checks to state campaign finance filing database. The Oregon Capital Bureau learned about the contributions Wednesday from a source close to the campaign. The campaign has seven days from receipt to report the contribution.
Jon Thompson, governors’ association press secretary, on Wednesday confirmed the new $1 million check to Buehler’s campaign.
“We see the Oregon governor’s race as a top pick-up opportunity,” Thompson wrote in an email. “Knute Buehler is running a focused, policy-driven campaign, and we believe he has a strong chance to win.”
Thompson cited the Cook Political Report’s assessment Tuesday upgrading the Oregon gubernatorial race from “Lean D” to a “Tossup.”
On Monday, the Republican Governors Association announced plans to spend over $60 million on gubernatorial races around the country in the final three weeks before the Nov. 6 election.
The most recent check to Buehler tops off a $1 million check from Knight Aug. 13 and $500,000 he gave a year earlier.
The $1 million from the Republican governors follows contributions of $250,000 on Aug. 27, $250,000 on Aug. 30, $250,000 on Sept. 14 and $175,000 on Oct. 1.
Knight recently gave $1 million to the Republican governors group but Thompson, their spokesman, said Knight’s gift had “no impact” on its decision to write a check to Buehler’s campaign.
“We don’t solicit or earmark contributions for a particular race,” Thompson wrote. “All of our contributions to the RGA go into one big pot.”
Brown, meanwhile, has received more than $650,000 over the past year from the Democratic Governors Association and $85,000 from Nike, according to state campaign finance data.
This year’s governor’s race is the most expensive in Oregon history. As of Wednesday, campaign finance reports showed Buehler and Brown were about even in campaign fundraising. Both have raised more than $9 million. That was without the newly-disclosed $2 million to Buehler.
Before those donations, campaign finance reports showed that Buehler had about $1.8 million of cash on hand, while Brown had about $3.2 million.
Buehler’s campaign spokeswoman, Monica Wroblewski, said the campaign has a policy of not commenting on donors or donations.
Knight could not be reached for comment.
Paris Achen: [email protected] or 503-363-0888. Achen is a reporter for the Portland Tribune working for the Oregon Capital Bureau, a collaboration of EO Media Group, Pamplin Media Group and Salem Reporter. Malheur Enterprise editor Les Zaitz manages the capital bureau.