Do Democrats sense trouble?9:02 AM, May 22, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren is bringing her name and fundraising prowess to Oregon next week to help her fellow Democrat, Jeff Merkley. Politico Playbook reports:
Elizabeth Warren heading to Oregon to help Sen. Jeff Merkley fend off an unexpectedly tough challenge: The senator is flying to Portland next Wednesday for a "grassroots fundraiser." Republicans nominated pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby in Tuesday's primary, who they think can put the state on the map. Democrats have sent Andrew Zucker to be Merkley's deputy campaign manager, reassigning him from Louisiana - where he's been assisting Sen. Mary Landrieu's reelect. He ran communications for Ed Markey in the Massachusetts special election last June to fill the seat opened by John Kerry's elevation to State.
Merkley appears weaker than expected for reelection. One recent NPR poll found a third of registered voters in Oregon had no opinion or did not know of him, while other polls showed him below 50 percent support. The new Republican nominee, Monica Wehby, is considered even by GOP strategists to be a dark horse to win. Oregon remains a strongly Democratic state, but two factors give Republicans some hope in pulling off a surprise win.
The first is that Merkley might be considered an "accidental" senator. In 2008, incumbent Republican Gordon Smith had a moderately conservative record with some libertarian tendencies, but his party affiliation cost him in a year dominated by George W. Bush fatigue and high Democratic turnout to support Barack Obama for president. Still, Merkley, then the speaker of the state house, only beat Smith by three percentage points. Merkley was also didn't win a majority, winning just under 49 percent of the vote. Oregon may look and feel like a Democratic lock, but in 2008, that Senate race was one of the most watched and competitive of the cycle.
The second is that the politics of Obamacare in Oregon do not favor anyone who supports it. The implementation of the law has been a disaster, with the state-run health insurance exchange having so many problems that the program's been shut down and rolled into the federal exchange. (The FBI has been investigating the exchange, called Cover Oregon, for malfeasance, and just yesterday the state's U.S. attorney subpoenaed records from Cover Oregon.) Merkley voted for Obamacare in 2010 and continues to support the law, saying as recently as this month that it has "a lot that's going right in Oregon." As a medical doctor and former board member at the American Medical Association, Wehby has an added benefit of authority on the subject of health care, which may dominate the campaign.
That's not to say Wehby doesn't have an uphill battle to victory. In addition to being a Republican in a blue state, she's also a first-time candidate experiencing some of the problems political neophytes face. Even before she won her primary handily this week, reports were already surfacing in local and national news outlets about incidents with an ex-husband and an ex-boyfriend for which the police were called, though no charges were ever filed in what appear to be overheated domestic disputes. The police report leaks were revealed to be from Democrats with loose ties to Merkley (although Merkley himself denies knowing about them). That, along with Elizabeth Warren's visit and new staffing in the Merkley campaign show Democrats are a little worried about losing what was once considered a safe seat. These reports, nevertheless, show Wehby will need to run a near flawless campaign from now on in order to win. Democrats aren't going to give up an Oregon seat that easy.
2:50 PM, May 20, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Monica Wehby is on track to win today's Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Oregon, and Democrats are already unloading on her as she prepares to face off against incumbent Jeff Merkley in the fall. Last Friday, a Politico article described a police report filed last year that alleged Wehby, a divorced mother, had been "stalking" and "harassing" an ex-boyfriend, local businessman Andrew Miller.
1:13 PM, May 15, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Monica Wehby, a Republican candidate for Senate in Oregon, leads her primary opponent Jason Conger by 17 points in a new poll by a GOP polling group supporting Wehby. New Republican, which has been running TV ads on Wehby's behalf, polled 500 likely primary voters in Oregon and found 41 percent support Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon and first-time candidate, while 24 percent support state senator Jason Conger.
Despite exorbitant costs, shuttered exchange, and FBI investigation.4:31 PM, May 6, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon defended Obamacare's record in his state, despite months of turmoil for the Oregon health insurance exchange that has ended in closing the exchange and prompted a federal investigation. One recent poll found 51 percent of Oregonians disapprove of Obamacare. Merkley, a Democrat who voted for Obamacare and is up for reelection this year, was asked by THE WEEKLY STANDARD to defend the law given its poor reception in his state.
But is she 'wimping out' of a primary debate?8:36 AM, May 2, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new poll shows Republican Monica Wehby leading incumbent Democrat Jeff Merkley for the first time in the race for U.S. Senate in Oregon. The poll, conducted for the Daily Caller by Vox Populi Polling, asked registered voters who they are supporting in the race, with 40 percent saying they'd support Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon and first-time candidate, and another 5 percent saying they are leaning toward voting for her.
4:15 PM, Apr 29, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A GOP super PAC is spending more than $75,000 on TV ads supporting Oregon Senate candidate Monica Wehby ahead of the state's May 20 primary. The Oregonian reports that New Republican, headed up veteran consultant Alex Castellanos, will be airing ads in the Portland market touting Wehby as an "independent conservative" and "the change Washington needs now."
Watch two of the 30-second ads below:
4:50 PM, Apr 24, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Monica Wehby, Republican candidate for for U.S. Senate in Oregon, released a 60-second ad this week offering window into her biography. The ad features Lex Liebelt, an Oregon woman who discovered during her pregnancy that her daughter had a spinal issue. Her obstetrician recommended Liebelt abort the baby, but Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon, offered Liebelt "hope."
Is Oregon the sleeper race in 2014?9:27 AM, Apr 4, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Democratic senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon is polling ahead of his potential Republican opponents, but his position is weak heading into his reelection campaign, according to a new survey by a GOP polling firm. Harper Polling found Merkley is ahead of two possible Republican opponents but is still polling less than 50 percent against them. Forty-seven percent say they would vote for Merkley over GOP state representative Jason Conger, who polled 40 percent, while 12 percent say they are not sure.
9:00 AM, Jan 22, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A Republican candidate for Senate trying to unseat first-term Democrat Jeff Merkley of Oregon raised half a million dollars in the last quarter of 2013. The Oregonian reports:
Oregon Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby, in a show of strength for her campaign, says she raised just over $501,000 in the last quarter of 2013.
Perhaps even in Oregon. Jan 20, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 18 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In 2014, very few Senate Democrats are safe from the undertow of Obamacare. One who—surprisingly—may not be is Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Merkley, by all accounts, should safely win reelection in November. Elected in 2008 over incumbent Republican Gordon Smith, he’s a perfect fit for the state’s population center, the progressive hipster mecca of Portland. As the Oregon house speaker, Merkley advanced a liberal laundry list of items like an expanded indoor smoking ban, a ban on junk food in schools, and more laws to limit discrimination against same-sex couples. In the U.S.
3:01 PM, Jan 3, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Democrat Jeff Merkley of Oregon probably isn't the first sitting senator Republicans think they can defeat this November. After beating incumbent Republican Gordon Smith in 2008 by 3 percentage points, Merkley appears safe in his seat. In 2012 Oregon voted for Barack Obama by more than 12 points, and the Cook Political Report rates the Senate race as "solid Democratic."
12:32 PM, Jan 24, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Senate leaders in both parties are brokering a deal to avert the so-called nuclear option Senate majority leader Harry Reid has threatened with regard to changing the body's filibuster rules. A Senate Republican aide confirms that the negotiated proposal between Reid and the GOP is well under way but will not include the requirement of a "talking filibuster"--a top priority of Oregon senator Jeff Merkley, a leader of the filibuster reform movement within the Senate.
2:06 PM, Jan 22, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Senate majority leader Harry Reid reiterated on Tuesday his plan to reform the rules of the Senate to weaken the filibuster and strengthen the majority party's power to move legislative debate forward. The Huffington Post reports:
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