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Republican Pierce announces Oregon governor bid

SALEM — Salem Republican Bud Pierce said Thursday that he's running for Oregon governor in his first bid for elected office.

An oncologist, Pierce's pitch drew heavily on his medical experience to make the case that he's prepared for Oregon's highest office.

"We need to talk about what ails Oregon. In medicine, we call this making a diagnosis," Pierce said in a speech in front of the state Capitol.  "We need to talk about a treatment plan to rid Oregon of this ailment. It is time for honest talk and tough medicine."

Pierce pledged to merge government agencies and eliminate middle-management positions to free up money for education. "Oregon's state government is broken, functions poorly, makes the lives of ordinary citizens difficult and wastes a great deal of our money," Pierce said.

Pierce is the first Republican to jump into the race for governor. Two other doctors, state Rep. Knute Buehler and former U.S. Senate candidate Monica Wehby, considered running but bowed out.

Democratic Gov. Kate Brown has taken steps toward starting her own campaign, but she has not publicly revealed her plans.

The winner of next year's election will serve the last two years of former Gov. John Kitzhaber's term. Kitzhaber resigned in February just six weeks into his fourth term amid an influence-peddling scandal.

Pierce's announcement was not a surprise. He told Republican activists at the annual Dorchester Conference in March that he intended to run for governor.

Pierce, 58, grew up in southern California, where he went to college at University of California, Riverside and medical school at UCLA. In 1994, he moved to Salem, where he continues running his oncology practice. He was the head of the Oregon Medical Association — the influential lobbying group for doctors — and helped negotiate a deal with trial lawyers aimed at reducing medical malpractice lawsuits.

Pierce has given his campaign $250,000 and has raised a total of $320,000. He'll have to overcome a dismal history for the Republican Party in Oregon, which hasn't elected a Republican governor since 1982.  

Bud Pierce, a Republican from Salem, announces his candidacy for governor Thursday on the steps of the Capito in Salem. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTO.