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Buehler wins Washington County GOP straw poll

The results of the Washington County Republican Party central committee straw poll could portend a close election with opponent Greg Wooldridge.

COURTESY PHOTO - Rep. Knute Buehler, R-BendRep. Knute Buehler won a Washington County Republican straw poll Saturday, April 14, for the party's nominee for governor.

The straw poll during a closed-door special central committee meeting was intended to determine the Washington County Republican Party's endorsements for the primary May 15.

Washington County has the greatest number of Republicans of any county in the state, according to the Secretary of State's Office voter registrations.

While none of the gubernatorial candidates received enough votes for an official endorsement, Buehler, a Bend orthopedic surgeon, received the most votes, 32 percent, followed by retired Naval aviator Greg Wooldridge of Portland with 31 percent.

Bend businessman Sam Carpenter came in third place with 21 percent, while Mehama real estate broker Bruce Cuff got 9 percent. None of the other six Republican gubernatorial candidates received any votes, said Washington County Republicans Chairperson Tracy Honl.

Seventy-five precinct committee people voted in the straw poll. Seventy-seven were required to make an endorsement, Honl said.

While precinct committee members are among the party's most engaged and may not reflect the wider electorate, the straw poll results could portend a close election next month.

There have been no recent scientific polls showing how the Republican gubernatorial candidates are doing in the race. Wooldridge won a straw poll during the Dorchester Conference in Salem in early March.

It's unusual for county parties to endorse candidates in contested primaries.

The endorsements were meant to help Precinct Committee Members get more "invested in their candidates," Honl said.

"When they're invested, they'll fight for them," she said in a statement, after a closed-door endorsement meeting with the candidates Saturday.

"We hope this move will get other Republicans interested and let them know that their voice is important," she said.

Here are the actual votes, according to Honl:

Knute Buehler – 24

Greg Wooldridge – 23

Sam Carpenter – 16

Bruce Cuff – 7

Abstentions– 5