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Lively Senate Race in Oregon

8:14 AM, Apr 13, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Fred Barnes, writing for the Wall Street Journal:

Monica Wehby is a pediatric brain surgeon running for the Republican Senate nomination in Oregon. She has never sought elected office before. But she is off to a well-financed and highly touted start. The reason: She has the support of GOP political operatives in Washington as the Republican with the best chance of unseating Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley.

Jason Conger is an Oregon legislator who is also seeking to win the Republican primary on May 20. He has won two state elections, ousting an entrenched Democrat in his first race. Mr. Conger doesn't have the backing of Republican strategists in Washington and his campaign is barely heralded at all. He trails Ms. Wehby badly in fundraising.

The Washington practice of intervening in Senate and House primaries, privately or publicly, is hardly a new one. Incumbents are routinely backed by party campaign committees. But intruding in challenger contests or races for open seats is controversial, especially when Republicans in Washington insist—as they do in supporting Ms. Wehby—that a less conservative candidate is more electable.

This was famously the case in Florida in 2010. The National Republican Senatorial Committee rushed to endorse then-Gov.Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio, his conservative rival for the Senate. It backfired. Mr. Rubio soared past Mr. Crist, who quit the GOP and ran (and lost) as an independent. Mr. Rubio won the Senate seat. This year Mr. Crist is running for governor as a Democrat.

Whole thing here.

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