Gov. Kate Brown and her likely GOP opponent in the 2018 governor's race, state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) raised money at a furious pace in 2017.
Brown, a Democrat, finished the year strongly, ending with $2.78 million raised in 2017, state filings show. Her campaign disclosed a number of large checks in the year's final weeks, including her largest check from any individual, $50,000 from Steve Silberstein, a Bay Area philanthropist. Brown enters 2018 with $2.64 million on hand.
Buehler, a two-term incumbent who lost to Brown in the 2012 race for secretary of state, pulled in $2.2 million in 2017, including the largest single check from one individual to another in Oregon political history, a $500,000 check from Nike chairman Phil Knight. Buehler now has $1.64 million on hand.
Both candidates got far stronger starts than their predecessors in the 2010 governor's election, the most expensive in state history.
Chris Dudley, the Republican candidate in that election raised just $424,000 in 2009, less than a quarter of what Buehler brought in this year. Dudley, a former Portland Trail Blazer new to politics, picked up the pace dramatically in 2010, raising over $10 million that year.
Former Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat who was returning to electoral politics after eight years in the private sector, raised $426,000 in 2009 and a little more than $7 million in 2010. Kitzhaber narrowly defeated Dudley in the November election.
Anything can happen next year, of course, but Buehler will soon eclipse the 2014 GOP candidate for governor, now Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, who raised a little over $3 million in total in his loss to the then-incumbent, Kitzhaber. Kitzhaber raised about $5 million for his re-election, nearly all of it in 2014.
Now that 2018 has begun, it's a safe bet that Brown and Buehler will crank up their already strong fundraising machines.