|Buehler should retain his House seat|
First-term Rep. Knute Buehler, (R-Bend) had made moves, during the legislative session and afterwards, that signaled his intent to run for governor.
The orthopedic surgeon, a pal of disgraced ex-Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, is far more liberal than most Republicans in this state. This fact would've attracted swing voters, provided he would've survive the GOP primary.
He championed easier access to birth control and it passed the Democratic-controlled legislature. He's demonstrated, unlike most GOP legislators, that he can work with Democrats.
However, when Buehler ran for secretary of state against Kate Brown in 2012 and lost, he took up the ridiculous and completely bogus cause of "voter fraud" to burnish his conservative bona-fides.
Despite Buehler receiving endorsements from all of the major newspapers in the state, Brown won re-election easily.
Still, Buehler won election to the House in 2014 in a district with more registered Democrats, by 5 percentage points, than Republicans.
Statewide, the registration gap is even larger, by about 8 percentage points. Oregon is a "blue" state.
Also, after Brown took over for Kitzhaber a few months after his re-election, she led one of the most effective and progressive legislative sessions in years. Her political star is rising.
Brown is likely to run for governor next year. If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee for president, her coattails would surely return Brown to office in Salem.
Buehler's internal polling probably showed him the same thing.
And, since the Independent Party of Oregon now has "major" party status, there is no guarantee it would endorse Buehler as it did during the secretary of state race. I mean, why have another party if it's just going to toe the Republican Party line.
The Independent Party, whose members lean toward Tea Party positions, would likely siphon off votes from he Republican candidate in 2016.
Oregon, which was solidly Republican for more than a century, hasn't elected a GOP governor in more than 30 years.
Having Donald Trump as the national face of the party can't help.
With Buehler's bow-out, the Independent Party's new legitimacy and Brown's demonstrated leadership, it looks like the GOP drought will continue unless a true, viable candidate emerges.