PORTLAND, OR -- The top three candidates fighting for the Republican nomination for Governor took part in their only debate Friday, on KBND, hosted by Lars Larson. Central Oregon businessman Sam Carpenter says he's the best candidate because, unlike Greg Wooldridge and Knute Buehler, he pledges to follow the will of the voters, even if their choices are anti-gun or pro-sanctuary city. "I'm going to try to make the laws correct, I'm going to follow the law, I am pro-life, I am pro-gun, the Second amendment is fine just the way it is, and I support our President."
Greg Wooldridge, a former Navy captain, thinks Oregonians want something different than the leadership the state's had for over three decades, " This is our year. I am a pragmatic conservative. I will win against Kate Brown. Nobody else can."
While State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) stands on his record and experience. "Who has a proven track record for supporting limited government, for lower taxes, for protecting small businesses and the Second Amendment? Greg and Sam can talk about it; I've done it."
The three candidates discussed a number of topics, agreeing on the need to lower taxes, be more proactive with forest health, uphold the Death penalty and reform PERS. But, they attacked each other's character and temperament several times. Wooldridge says Carpenter claims to have served in the military, "Really, there's not much to prove that you did serve. And, by the way, Sam, your desperation doesn't serve you well." Carpenter responded with claims Wooldridge is lying, "I have never represented I've been in the military, and if you'd read the little paragraph on my website, you would've seen that."
Carpenter also fired at Buehler, saying he wants to "kill babies" because the doctor is pro-choice
. Buehler rebuffed the attack by talking about legislation he helped write, which he says has reduced abortions in Oregon by 20%, "That's leadership; when you bring people from both parties, from the left and the right together, to accomplish some real positive change."
Debate moderator Lars Larson asked what each would do if the controversial gun measure IP43
were to pass. Carpenter began, "I'm going to dodge the question, if you want to call it that." And Buehler interrupted with, "Hey, Lars, I won't dodge that question. I won't enforce that law. It's unconstitutional. And that's what it takes to be a leader, is to stand up and say 'These things are wrong'." Wooldridge says he's been against IP43 from the beginning, "Lars, I would not enforce that law. Good leaders have the courage to stand alone. and the courage to go against things that are just not right." Carpenter says his strategy would be to keep IP43 from ever becoming law in the first place, but if it passes, he would uphold it.
While the three agree on several key Republican issues, their race has been contentious enough that Larson asked the candidates if they would support the Republican nominee, once he's chosen by voters on Tuesday. Wooldridge answered, "Over Kate Brown? Yes." Carpenter said, "Yes." But, Buehler responded, "I'll support Greg Wooldridge. But the jury's still out with regards to Sam's background; too many open questions for me."
to watch the full debate. Ballots are due back at county elections offices by 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 15.