Republican Primary features six candidates compared to two in the Democratic race

In May, voters will whittle down a slate of eight gubernatorial candidates to two, but one party has a much larger pool to choose from.

In the Democratic Primary, incumbent John Kitzhaber is running against Ifeanyichukwu C. Diru of Salem. Information filed with the Secretary of State’s Office indicates that Diru is an “entrepreneur” with a prior occupational background as a “service provider,” who obtained an undergraduate degree from Chemeketa Community College in business. However, no other information was provided and attempts to contact Diru by email or phone were unsuccessful by press deadline.

The Republican ticket by contrast is packed with six candidates hoping to unseat Kitzhaber in the November general election. This list includes 12-year Oregon state representative Dennis Richardson of Central Point, retired Medford business owner Gordon Challstrom, real estate broker Bruce A. Cuff of Lyons, business owner Mae Rafferty of Selma, property manager Darren Karr of West Linn, and corporate CEO and Portland resident Tim Carr.

While each of the candidates offer diverse beliefs on job creation, health care, and education, some have voiced unique issues that they hope to address if elected.

Rafferty, for example, vehemently opposes Chinese-based companies setting up shop in Oregon or anywhere else in the country.

“It is my understanding that all Chinese businesses are either partly or entirely owned by the Chinese communist government,” she stated. “Encouraging communist-owned business to set up in Oregon is inviting foreign invasion and most certainly will do nothing for the cause of liberty.”

Among the many views expressed by Karr is his belief that Oregon legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Bad people are going to do bad things whether or not they smoke weed. Let’s not make criminals out of good people because of bad people,” he said. “There’s no stopping it, so we should be on the cutting edge. Marijuana is an emerging industry and we could be the number-one supplier in the country.”

For Cuff, many of his beliefs are tied to an emphasis on local control. He proposed a local sales tax to raise revenue for county law enforcement, believes the state should funnel all law enforcement resources not associated with the state police to the counties. In addition, he would support establishing a land-use system in which local cities and counties determine the rules for zoning and approved uses.

When it comes to job creation, the candidates offered a diverse set of ideas for helping stimulate economic growth in the wake of the recession. Kitzhaber wants to continue supporting existing policies that he feels have helped Oregon become, according to reports, one of the top 10 states to do business, and “continue leveraging our global competitive advantage for industries like advanced manufacturing, clean and high technology, forestry products, and apparel.”

In addition, the incumbent wants to focus on job training to foster a strong workforce and remove regulatory barriers for economic development.

Carr believes Oregon should attract businesses from other states by creating a business friendly environment through tax reform and “sensible regulation reform.”

“Increase the number of people who will benefit from Oregon’s economic prosperity through focused efforts to attract job-creating business development,” he said.

Challstrom similarly targeted tax and regulatory reform as a means of improving the state economy.

“When we can’t log a burnt-out forest, you know we are over-regulated,” he said. “Look to private lands and state lands and you see productive lands managed in such a way that logging is sustainable and profitable.”

Richardson stated that Oregon “needs a leader who understands that creating an economic environment where small businesses and young entrepreneurs can flourish,” leading for family-wage jobs.

“Oregon doesn’t need a higher tax rate,” he said. “They need more taxpayers and that comes from expanding our economy with a clear understanding of a need to maintain our quality of life and our environment.”

Regarding health care in Oregon, most Republican candidates feel Cover Oregon was a disaster and want to find other methods beyond an insurance exchange to provide affordable care.

“Health care has skyrocketed largely due to the regulations placed upon physicians,” Rafferty said. “Insurance and government programs have also played upon the greed of the medical profession, and the huge cost of educating physicians is a factor. I think we need to look at the cause of rising medical cost rather than resorting to socialized medicine programs such as Obamacare, which makes many new demands upon the citizens and physicians, thus increasing overall costs even more.”

Karr feels Oregon can have low health care and prescription costs, low insurance premiums, low deductibles, and quick access to care.

“We can have everything we want if we just get a little crazy and put a stop to the money influence over our health care system,” he said.

Challstrom proposed allowing the purchase of health insurance policies across state lines, which he feels would lead to greater competition and lower premiums.

“Cover pre-existing conditions, prescription drugs, annual preventative care couple with a no-drop clause, and catastrophic coverage with a premium that is tax deductible, and let the free market system work without government interference,” he stated.

Kitzhaber has continued to support Cover Oregon while seeking to ensure the exchange works as intended. Meanwhile he is hoping to improve health care in Oregon through the recent creation of coordinated care organizations (CCO), which facilitate a collaborative approach among multiple communities to administer improved health care at a lower cost.

In addition, he wants to utilize the CCOs to shift the focus of health care to prevention.

“CCOs are developing new ways to improve care and prevent chronic conditions from becoming emergencies,” he said.

The May Primary election will take place on May 20. The victors for each party will square off in the general election in November.

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