Bend businessman announces bid for Merkley's seat

SALEM — A Bend businessman announced Thursday that he plans to run for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley.

Sam Carpenter said he's loaned his campaign $100,000.

Carpenter is president and chief executive of Centratel, a telephone answering service based in Bend, and author of a book called "Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less." His campaign said he consults for distressed businesses and started a nonprofit organization to help families after a 2005 earthquake in northern Pakistan.

Carpenter, 63, said his consulting efforts have focused on turning around troubled enterprises, and Washington needs a fix.

"I just like to fix things that are broken. That's what I do," Carpenter said. "Obviously, there are mechanical things wrong out there and it could use some new operators."

He said he'd try to improve Washington by making things simple and more efficient but declined to elaborate, saying he'll discuss specifics about his plans as the campaign develops.

Carpenter said he's for "a simplified, smaller government" and wants people to be able to make their own choices and "keep more of the money they make."

Merkley was first elected in 2008, narrowly defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Gordon Smith. He was helped by the coattails of President Barack Obama, whose campaign drove up turnout and enthusiasm on the left and helped sweep Democrats to offices up and down the ballot that year.

Merkley has said he plans to seek a second term.

"Sen. Merkley is concentrated on doing his job, fighting every day for the middle class families of Oregon," said Tim Leahy, a spokesman.

Carpenter joins a potentially crowded — and contentious — Republican primary. Jo Rae Perkins, the former chairwoman of the Linn County Republican Party, has announced she will run. State Rep. Jason Conger, R-Bend, and Monica Wehby, a Portland physician, have also said they're considering a run.

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