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7 GOP candidates face off in Oregon gubernatorial debate

KEIZER) — Oregon Republican gubernatorial candidates go back and forth on several topics, but they all agree the state’s Democratic Gov. Kate Brown must go.

Seven candidates during a debate Saturday in Keizer blamed Brown and Democrats in the state legislature for what they see as Oregon’s biggest problems, including poor high school graduation rates, lack of accountability for public officials and high taxes, the Statesman Journal reported .

Bend businessman Sam Carpenter called for the end of the “32-year progressive far-left reign of terror” and for Republicans to take control of not only the governorship, but both legislative chambers.

Carpenter even made it clear that he has no interest in working with Democrats.

“There’s no more crossing the aisle,” he said. “We’ve been doing that for 30 years. We need to go in there and we need to fix it.”

Candidate Greg Wooldridge, a former U.S. Navy pilot and a social conservative, received 40 percent support in a straw poll in early March at the annual conservative Dorchester Conference; Carpenter received 20 percent.

State Rep. Knute Buehler was absent from the debate, which was hosted by Oregon Women for Trump. Buehler received 29 percent support at the conference.

Buehler is considered by many to be the most likely Republican to face Brown in the November general election. He has about $1.9 million on hand as of Sunday for his gubernatorial run — far more than the combined total of his primary opponents. He also has state government experience and the support from top Republicans in the state, including House Republican Leader Mike McLane.

The Oregon gubernatorial election will be held Nov. 6. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Brown is eligible to seek election to a full term after winning a special election in 2016 to fill the void left by John Kitzhaber.

Kitzhaber resigned in February 2015 amid controversies related to his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, and her work as a consultant and for the state.

Brown became the first openly LGBT person elected to a term as governor in U.S. history.