A bitter feud is brewing between the Republican candidates jousting to take on U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader.
The finger-pointing in Oregon's Fifth Congressional District involves Angela Roman and Joey Nations — with accusations flying that a volunteer for Nations' campaign called in a fake threat of an anti-fascist protest in order to derail Roman's events.
"This type of behavior shouldn't happen," said Kevin Conzo, campaign manager for Roman. "You don't use backdoor deceitful tactics to hurt your opponent."
In their account, Roman arrived at a rural restaurant around 1 p.m. on Feb. 22 for a meet-and-greet, only to be informed by staff that someone had called in and promised a "large showing and protest." The caller allegedly identified themselves as a member of the anti-fascist movement known as Antifa.
Regardless, the event went on as planned, without disruption. The Roman campaign says they later traced the number back to Nations' camp using the internet site BeenVerified.
"It was a false flag," said Conzo, saying both the Polk County Sheriff and the F.B.I. have been notified of the incident. He says another antifa threat was called in about Roman last year, preventing her from attending a Portland event featuring author Dinesh D'Souza.
Nations says it didn't happen that way. He said the supporter — a "grandmother and all around great lady" — had simply seen a legitimate Facebook post from anti-fascists promising a protest, and she even left her name and number when alerting the eatery.
"My campaign is in no way involved or connected to this insanity," Nations told the Tribune. "Angela would love to be relevant though."
The Tribune contacted the volunteer, who has been publicly accused on the Roman campaign Facebook page.
"I've got some phone calls out and I'm trying to find out what's going on," Mary Gemmell said in a brief conversation. "I did not impersonate Antifa."
Staff at Rock-N-Rogers at Farrol's Restaurant & Lounge, 670 S. Pacific Hwy, were similarly tight-lipped. When asked what had happened that day, a woman who answered the phone said "nothing" and then "I gotta go, sorry."
While black-clad protesters aren't adverse to challenging conservative politicos in downtown Portland, a rally in Rickreall — an unincorporated community, population 77, located west of Salem — would be quite a show of force.
Roman and Nations have been in the news before.
According to court records, a judge recommended Roman spend four days in jail after she pleaded guilty to unlawful transfer of a gun to a felon in Marion County in 2017. She also paid a $100 fine.
Roman, who was traveling to D.C. for the conservative conference CPAC and was not available for comment, recently told the Keizertimes "I would do it all over again."
Nations' conduct has been scrutinized as well, with Willamette Week reporting he was caught on video throwing punches during a clash with Antifa on Aug. 6, 2017. Nations told the paper it was self defense.
The third candidate in the GOP primary is Amy Ryan Courser, a former Keizer city councilor.
On the other side of the fence, two Democrats are mounting primary challenges against incumbent Schrader as well. Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba is running on the strength of his environmental record, while tiki bar owner Blair Reynolds is pushing for a universal basic income and health care for all.
The Fifth District stretches from Happy Valley and Lake Oswego to Wilsonville, Canby and Woodburn, and also covers much of the Oregon Coast from Manzanita to Yachats.
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