Knute Buehler’s New Hire Signals Different Campaign Tone for 2018

Republican candidate for governor hires bomb-thrower Jonathan Lockwood from Senate Republican office.

The leading GOP candidate for governor, state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) has made an interesting choice to be the public face of his 2018 campaign.

Buehler has selected Jonathan Lockwood, currently the spokesman for the Oregon Senate Republicans.

Since arriving in Oregon in December 2016 from Colorado, where he worked for a number of political campaigns and groups, Lockwood has carved out a niche writing bombastic press releases with headlines such as "People are onto the illiberal Democrats: Democrat-Union leadership 'education agenda' uses kids as pawns, tosses teachers to the curb," and "Former abortion lobbyist Gov. Kate Brown signs into law Abortion Free for All Bill forces Oregonians to fund late-term, sex-selective abortions."

His aggressive style has led to conflicts inside the Capitol and on social media, where his ongoing Twitter beefs with people such as longtime Democratic insider Dmitri Palmateer, now chief of staff to state Treasurer Tobias Read, have spiced up the normally staid political discourse.


In 2012, Buehler, then a relatively unknown orthopedic surgeon from Bend, ran against Brown, a Democrat who was seeking her second term as secretary of state.

In that race, Buehler focused primarily on introducing himself to voters, rather than attacking Brown after what had been something of a rocky first term. Buehler lost that race, despite getting the endorsement of just about every newspaper in the state, by a margin of 51 percent to 43 percent.

Since then, Brown succeeded former Gov. John Kitzhaber, when Kitzhaber resigned in February 2015. Buehler rebounded from his 2012 loss to serve two terms in the House. But he still faces an enormous hurdle—registered Democrats out number registered Republicans in Oregon by 10 percentage points (about 264,000 voters).

Lockwood's hire, effective Nov. 1, suggests Buehler may change his tactics against Brown this time.