Dr. William "Bud" Pierce, a Salem cancer doctor, took to a podium on the steps of the state Capitol on Thursday to announce he's running for governor as a Republican.
Thursday was the first day that candidates could file with the Secretary of State's office for the November 2016 election, and Pierce was the first gubernatorial hopeful to make his candidacy official. He has never sought public office before, but he's looking to add new vigor to the Republican Party's quest for the governorship.
From the get-go, Pierce is shaping up to be an atypical Republican candidate. He called himself "old school" and "fearless" and said he admires Republicans like Mark Hatfield, Tom McCall, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Pierce said he's a "throw back" to the Republican party's original ideals. When asked why he thinks Republicans haven't run successfully in Oregon recently, he said, "It’s because it’s kind of scary. It’s new. It takes your time and money."
Pierce said his main focus is on economic prosperity.
"As your governor, I will work to ensure that each Oregon child has the opportunity to learn how to work, and to be trained for a productive adult life," he said.
The positions Pierce has voiced so far are generally fiscally conservative but socially liberal.
Pierce said issues like abortion and same-sex marriage are "settled," though he wants as few abortions as are necessary.
Much of Pierce's rhetoric during his announcement focused on what he called "Oregon's broken state government."
He said as governor he'd demand reform of state agencies by eliminating and consolidating inefficient programs. He said he would reduce government spending by not replacing state agency workers who retire or leave their job, instead of reducing agency size through layoffs.
He called for more focus on teacher flexibility and job training, simplification of business rules, infrastructure improvements and a reduction of reliance on public assistance programs like food stamps and the Oregon Health Program.
"We are a poor state," he added.
"How can we be failing so miserably? We’re wealthier than we ever have been."
Pierce said tax increases aren't needed to achieve his goals, and that reducing government waste and focusing on wages and employment are key to improving Oregon.
A word for the Democrats
Pierce also sharply criticized Oregon's perennial Democratic leadership. Oregon has had a Democratic governor for nearly 30 years.
"During these 30 years, we have experienced worsening income inequality, worsening poverty, falling incomes relative to national norms, failing schools, a deteriorating infrastructure and an inability to responsibly use our natural resources, not to mention Cover Oregon and political scandals," Pierce said.
He criticized what he felt were sentiments within the Capitol that legislators are above the people.
"That bites me. You're not there to be a monarch."
Though Pierce has never been elected, he doesn't see that as damaging to his credibility as a candidate or a leader. When asked how he differs from Monica Wehby, a Portland doctor who was the 2014 Republican candidate looking to unseat Sen. Jeff Merkley, Pierce said Wehby had gone through the ropes of medical politics and then into public service.
"I prepared myself by living a varied and highly successful private life," Pierce said.
He added that he'll continue his practice as an oncologist during the campaign but will stop practicing if elected.
Pierce said the key to a successful political bid isn't being a career politician, it's having a career and bringing those skills to a public office.
He's also bringing personal connections and more than $317,000 of campaign contributions to his fight to win a spot in Mahonia Hall.
"Someone has to step forward and head our state in a different direction," he said. "I believe my life has prepared me for this moment."