By Representative Sal Esquivel
My friend and colleague Knute Buehler has a well-deserved reputation for having an independent-streak and achieving bipartisan results in the Oregon House. As Knute frequently says, he likes to look beyond the narrow labels that too often define our politics today. I’m writing today, to endorse Rep. Buehler in his recently launched campaign for Governor, and to ask my fellow conservatives and Republicans who may have concerns about Knute, to also look beyond narrow labels and study the facts about his record.
Knute is most certainly a moderate. He is pro-choice and supported marriage equality. But that moderate label doesn’t mean he is hostile to conservatives within our Party. Quite the contrary. With Knute, I’ve always experienced an open-door and an open mind. Knute likes to build coalitions – on the right and left. Furthermore, on critical issues like taxes, spending, PERS reform, criminal justice, business regulation and support for natural resource communities, Knute Buehler has a strong, pro-business, pro-free enterprise voting record. Knute is a fiscal conservative with libertarian, small government instincts. Knute even voted no on the massive $5.2 billion transportation bill that is chock full of new taxes, tolls and electric car subsidies. On other issues important to conservative and Republican voters: Knute voted no on gun control legislation (SB 719), Knute voted no on “sanctuary state” legislation (HB 3464), Knute voted no on taxpayer funded, abortion on demand (HB 2391). Ironically, given how extreme each of these policies are, his no votes (along with other Republicans) actually reflect a level of thoughtful and common sense approach to policy-making.
If Democrats continue to control the legislature after the 2018 election, Knute’s legislative voting record offers a glimpse into what kind of bills a Governor Buehler would veto if sent to his desk. This is important because more and more the extremist Portland voices who dominate the legislature are shutting out moderate Democrat and Republican voices and ideas. The legislature under Democrats is far more liberal than Oregon overall. I believe Knute Buehler is conservative enough to bring real change to state government and yet moderate enough to attract the independent and Democrat votes needed to win a tough general election against Kate Brown. It’s exciting to think of the kind of coalitions Republicans in the House and Senate could build with the five to seven moderate Democrats in those chambers if they knew there was a Governor with whom they could do political business.
It’s early in the campaign, but I plan to work hard with Knute to produce a historic win in Oregon politics. But before conservatives make a decision that they can’t support, work with or accept Knute Buehler as our nominee, they should carefully study his voting record and remember Ronald Reagan’s famous quote, “My eighty-percent friend is not my twenty-percent enemy.”
And before we turn our fire on each other, let’s remember the real target is Kate Brown.
Sal Esquivel is the Oregon State Representative from House District 6.