Former Oregon GOP Chair Allen Alley plans to run for governor in 2016, sources tell OPB.

Former Oregon GOP Chair Allen Alley plans to run for governor in 2016, sources tell OPB.

April Baer/OPB

As expected, Republican businessman Allen Alley formally announced his candidacy for Oregon governor Monday. And in doing so, he indicated that he would seek to tie Democratic Gov. Kate Brown to a union-backed tax measure headed to the November ballot.

Alley, in an interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting, charged that Brown and other legislative Democrats are quietly rooting for the passage of a proposed ballot measure that would levy a gross receipts tax on larger corporations.

Democrats are “trying to foist the biggest tax increase in the history of the state on the citizens of Oregon by calling it something different,” Alley said. “But the fundamental thing it is is a sales tax.”

Supporters of Initiative Petition 28 say that large corporations don’t carry enough of Oregon’s tax load and that most of the money raised — an estimated $2.6 billion a year — would be picked up by such large national retailers as Wal-Mart, Target and McDonalds. Critics say most of the tax will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

Brown said that Oregon needs additional tax revenue but says she hasn’t reached a conclusion yet about Initiative Petition 28.

Republicans have not won a governor’s race in Oregon since 1982 — and they haven’t won a statewide race at all since 2002. Alley lost a 2008 race for treasurer and a 2010 primary for governor.

He argued that he is facing a better political environment this year. Voters are angry at the political establishment, he said, and losing their faith in state government.

“I think Salem has let us down,” he said. “I think the political machine in Salem has overreached. They’re not spending money very effectively — $195 million for a bridge that was never built, $310 million for a website that was never built.” 

Those are references to the aborted Columbia River Crossing on Interstate 5 and the failed Cover Oregon website that was supposed to serve consumers under the new federal health care law.

Carol Butler, Brown’s political consultant, declined to respond to Alley’s criticisms.

“Gov. Brown is very focused on doing her job as governor and not on the Republican primary,” said Butler, adding that there is “plenty of time for politics later on.”

However, the Oregon Democratic Party issued a statement critical of Alley for seeking Tea Party support during the 2010 race for governor and for saying that climate change was not caused by humans. Alley, however, did say during that campaign that he was a fan of electric cars and that he wanted to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Salem doctor Bud Pierce is Alley’s competitor in the May 17 Republican primary. He said in an interview with OPB that “Republicans, and I think the citizens in general, are looking for anti-establishment candidates” and that he fits that template better than Alley.

“He’s run twice, unsuccessful,” and was a deputy chief of staff to then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a Democrat, Pierce said. 

“So I think that’s pretty inside politics,” he said.