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Sources Say: No letup in sight in Merkley, Wehby counterattacks

Primary election winners usually take a little time to regroup before launching their general election campaigns. Not Democratic Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley and Republican victor Monica Wehby. Both of their campaigns have kept up a steady stream of email news releases since May 20, most attacking the other side.

Merkley’s news releases have sought to define Wehby as a right-wing extremist and lapdog of the super rich (otherwise known as the 1 percent) who has no chance of winning. They have linked her to anti-abortion activists, other Republicans from Karl Rove to Newt Gingrich, and out-of-state Super PACs. The emails also have drawn attention to two recent polls that show Merkley with double-digit leads over Wehby.

For their part, Wehby’s news releases have accused Merkley of running a smear campaign against her by exploiting two previous domestic disputes. The releases also have pointed to other polls that suggest Merkley is vulnerable, despite the state’s Democratic voter registration edge and history of electing Democrats to statewide offices.

And there’s still more than five months to go before the Nov. 4 election.

Water votes followed the money

Recent election filings show opponents of the proposed Portland Public Water District outraised its supporters by a margin of $401,826 to $147,979 during the primary election.

Ballot Measure 26-156 was overwhelmingly defeated by Portland voters. Last-minute contributions to the Stop the Bull Run Takeover PAC included $1,500 from Friends of Trees, $2,000 from Professional & Technical Employees Local 17, $5,000 from the Conservation Campaign, $5,000 from local publisher Win McCormack, and $20,000 from the Oregon AFSCME Council 75, which pushed the union’s total donation to $70,000.

No additional contributions have been reported by Portlanders for Water reform since the election. Additional contributions could be reported by both groups in coming weeks.

Christie throws weight behind Richardson

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie doesn’t carry much weight in Oregon, even among Republican voters. So it’s a little odd that state Rep. Dennis Richardson, the Republican nominee against Democratic Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, would tout Christie’s endorsement in a May 28 email news release.

“I’m excited to write to you today and let you know that I’m supporting Dennis Richardson to become Oregon’s next governor,” Christie wrote in the email, which also blamed Kitzhaber for wasting $250 million in tax money on the problem-plagued Cover Oregon

website.

That’s Richardson’s primary issue against Kitzhaber, so far. But Christie’s endorsement may be more significant than the number of voters he might swing Richardson’s way. It is an indication that Republicans on the national level are taking the race seriously, the first step in Richardson being able to raise enough money to run a significant general election campaign.