Incumbent Jeff Merkley will face Pavel Goberman and William Bryk in May primary

After serving Oregon nearly six years in the U.S. Senate, Democrat Jeff Merkley is running for a second term, and will face some unique competition.

His opponents include Pavel Goberman, a Beaverton fitness center owner who moved to the United States from Russia, and Brooklyn, N.Y., resident William Bryk, whose entire and career and life has been spent in New York state.

“The Constitution of the United States, in the qualifications clause, sets minimum thresholds for a United States senator,” Bryk said of his candidacy. “Theoretically, one could qualify for office and move into the state from which one is elected on Election Day. I don’t intend to push it that far. If I am nominated, I will move.”

The candidates each share varying viewpoints on the primary issues facing Oregon and the rest of the country, including health care, employment, and the budget and federal debt.

When it comes to health care, Goberman believes in focusing physical fitness to improve health and, in turn, lower cost.

“It will prevent many medical problems, including cancers, cut the cost of health care and drugs,” he said. “Fitness is the answer to our soaring health care cost.”

Merkley has expressed support for the Affordable Care Act, but believes it could work better than it has so far.

“We have a lot of transition under way with the health care bill," Merkley said, "and I have been getting vignettes of things that are working and vignettes of things that are not working."

Rather than support a new plan, Merkley believes it is better to keep what is working and fix what has not.

"Let's not return to the situation where virtually half the state couldn't get health care insurance as an individual because of pre-existing conditions," he said.

Bryk said he supports the Affordable Care Act as well, but added that he does not believe it goes far enough.

“I still favour Medicare for everyone,” he said. “The issue of cost can be dealt with.”

Regarding unemployment and job creation, Merkley has pushed for an extension of the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides weeks of payment above and beyond the 26 weeks allotted by the State of Oregon. In addition, he has expressed a desire to boost manufacturing as a means of creating new jobs.

“Manufacturers in Oregon tell me that the top three things they need are better access to capital, strong training programs, and a level playing field. If we want manufacturing to thrive, Congress needs to act to address these needs.”

Bryk would like to loosen forest restrictions to enable communities who depend on timber the ability to increase timber harvests and forest management and thereby boost employment.

“I favor liberalizing the use of Forest Service lands provided we take care of them,” he said. “You need to replace those trees that you cut down.”

Goberman asserted that the unemployment rate in Oregon is much higher than reported because many people do no register with the Employment Department. He went on to suggest a plan to boost the economy that would penalize businesses who move their operations out of country.

“It will help companies from moving outside of the U.S., or they will lose big money,” he said. “Boycott the goods of the U.S. companies that moved jobs outside of the U.S. to Canada, China, India, and Mexico, or they must pay a big tax, which will create jobs here.”

Each candidate proposed unique plans for helping balance the budget and reduce the escalating national debt. Bryk believes that the solution lies in raising taxes, particularly on the wealthy.

“I favor an increase in taxation on those who have enjoyed a large share of the fruits of living in a peaceful society,” he said. “I would favor taking some of that money and using it to pay down our national debt.”

Goberman, on the other hand, preferred to attack the expense side of the ledger, particularly when it comes to providing financial assistance to other nations.

“We are giving aid of many billion dollars to other countries that do not support us,” he said.

For Merkley, the answer is tri-fold. He first would like to end military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘The year before last, we spent $120 billion there," he said.

He also believes in putting an end to predatory loan practices.

“Then, we have to have a path that brings our revenue and expenditures back together," he continued.

Merkley believes progress has been made with the annual federal deficit, noting that it is now half of what it was a few years earlier. However, he stressed that the process has to happen gradually over a period of a few more years.

"If you do it overnight, we would be in another recession with higher unemployment than we have now."

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