Independent Governor candidate Patrick Starnes announced today that he will drop out of the race. He now supports Gov. Kate Brown because he wants to work with her on campaign finance reform, he tells Eugene Weekly.
Starnes, talking with EW from Brown’s Portland headquarters, says he wants this election to be the last “big dollar” governor’s race.
“The stars have lined up for campaign finance reform,” Starnes says. “It’ll be the last time we have this much money [in an election].”
He adds that the governor’s race is getting closer, and he doesn’t believe Brown’s challenger would be a viable governor to take on campaign finance reform.
Because Starnes is dropping out, Brown will commit to supporting a constitutional amendment that would limit campaign contributions. The two made their deal public on KATU today.
Republican challenger Knute Buehler has accepted $2.5 million from Phil Knight. Knight has also donated $1 million to Republicans Governors Association, which has in turn donated more than $2 million to Buehler.
And there seems to be an apparent IT problem with the state’s elections system that has resulted in some of Buehler’s transactions to disappear.
Because of Buehler’s large sums of cash he’s received in particular from Knight and the $1 million from the timber industry, Starnes says he’d rather work with Brown in amending the Oregon Constitution to allow campaign finance limits.
“The race is close,” Starnes says. “He’s not the one to lead on campaign reform. He can help us in a tri-partisan effort. I trust Gov. Brown to deliver on this issue.”
Starnes says he called Brown’s campaign last night to set up a meeting this morning. After a 10 am meeting with Brown, he says he decided to drop out and commit to work with Brown on campaign finance reform.
Brown and Starnes teaming up together to take on Buehler was foreshadowed on Saturday, when Brown came to Eugene to meet with Democratic Party of Lane County volunteers. She told EW that she would work with Starnes on campaign finance reform if he came to her. She added that campaign finance reform is important to her, but she’s been busy with “back-to-back campaigning.”
Starnes says he and Brown are planning to do joint radio and TV interviews together, and he will be spending the rest of the election (one week) supporting Brown and STAR voting.
Starnes pulls out of the race with already 21.6 percent of ballots returned statewide according to recent numbers from the Oregon Elections Division. Twenty-two percent (27,681) of Independent Party voters have already returned their ballots.
With campaign finance reform and STAR voting, it’ll make Oregon more hospitable to encouraging third parties.
Starnes adds that he’ll continue his race for governor in future elections. He says he wants to continue working toward revolutionizing Oregon’s government. This includes fighting the LNG pipeline, making the Oregon Health Plan for all and opening up PERS so everyone could be a part of it (renaming it OURS).