GOP gubernatorial candidate drops out of race
SALEM — And then there were nine.
Bruce Cuff, a real estate broker from Mehama, Ore., dropped out of the crowded Republican primary for governor late Wednesday, leaving nine other candidates to jostle for the nomination.
Cuff endorsed fellow candidate Greg Wooldridge, a motivational speaker and former U.S. Navy pilot, in the contest.
The endorsement showcased the divisions among the candidates, the more conservative of whom are urging others to drop out of the race to mount a more credible challenge against, State Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, who is viewed as the likely victor and as a moderate.
Cuff, reached by phone Thursday morning, said he "didn't really have the numbers to move forward."
"I think Greg Wooldridge is the one that can actually win this campaign and bring the party together," Cuff said.
In an announcement from Wooldridge's campaign, Cuff also called on another candidate, Sam Carpenter, to drop out of the race.
Carpenter, a Bend businessman, fired back Thursday, touting a poll his campaign commissioned showing him behind Buehler, but with more support than Wooldridge.
"They need to drop out and endorse me," Carpenter said of Wooldridge and Cuff.
In a Facebook post Wednesday morning, Carpenter made his case for whittling the field of candidates.
"Too many 'grass roots' candidates are splitting the conservative vote," he wrote.
He maintains he could beat Buehler if other candidates dropped out.
Wooldridge's campaign touted Cuff's endorsement in a press release late Wednesday, less than three weeks before the election.
"Bruce's endorsement means the world to me," Wooldridge said in a statement. "We are really starting to come together in this race and that's important."
The primary election is May 15.