Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 23, 2014

Rating Change: Oregon Senate

With pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby’s Republican nomination in Oregon, national GOP strategists believe they have pulled another state onto the Senate playing field. But she still starts the general election as a considerable underdog against Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley.

Wehby, a first-time candidate, does not have a legislative voting record to be dissected, but she faced a series of dramatic headlines about police reports and allegations of harassment from a former husband and boyfriend that came to light in the final days of the primary.

While Wehby is recovering from the Republican race, Merkley is using his financial advantage to hit the airwaves to define himself (in a 30-second ad titled “Fighter”) and to define Wehby as a national Republican (in a 30-second ad titled “Republican Agenda”).

Wehby still has to prove that she has the candidate and fundraising skills necessary to knock off an incumbent senator in a state that leans Democratic. But Merkley can’t put his re-election on cruise control either.

Wehby’s nomination doesn’t guarantee that the National Republican Senatorial Committee or other GOP outside groups will spend money in Oregon. But had Wehby lost, it would have virtually guaranteed that those groups would not have spent in the race in the general election.

We’re changing our Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating of the race from Safe for Democrats to Democrat Favored.

We’ll see whether Democrats can damage Wehby’s brand enough to make her unelectable before we even get to the fall. Or see if this race develops into a more serious contest.

  • Joe

    Merkley has done basically nothing to differentiate himself from the national Democratic party either, while Wehby has several positions that are dramatically different. Maybe Merkley doesn’t need to, representing Oregon, but this seems like a very ironically rich theme to campaign on.

  • left wing

    the insane left in OR just votes for the name with a D by it. the democratic party’s war on women has already start to attack Wehby. merkley is just a good little dembot lemming that believes in the democratic party utopia of Orwell’s 1984

  • Hetero Lingo

    Although private property may appear to be a source of certain people being empowered against others, we should remember that some people were empowered against others long before private property was recognized.

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