Differences among the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate and Oregon Governor became clearer this weekend at a gathering of conservatives in Portland. Four of the five candidates vying to challenge Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley debated over issues including immigration, legalizing marijuana, pardoning Edward Snowden, and which federal agency they would eliminate. A fifth candidate, Portland attorney Tim Crawley, was not invited to the event.
Oregon Representative Jason Conger faced some heat early on by Salem IT consultant, Mark Callahan, for voting in favor of establishing Cover Oregon. Conger defended his vote by saying it was an attempt to not force Oregonians into the federal Healthcare.gov exchange.
Portland pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby separated herself from the other challengers by supporting abortion rights, saying this is a “personal decision between a woman and her family … and not a woman and her government.” Her position drew applause from the conservative audience.
Former Linn County Republican Chair, Jo Rae Perkins, brought a copy of the U.S. Constitution with her to the debate, arguing the Department of Education, the Federal Reserve, and federal land ownership in the West all violated the Constitution.
The gathering also featured a forum involving four candidates aiming to challenge Gov. John Kitzhaber. State Rep. Dennis Richardson accused Kitzhaber of putting more focus on social welfare programs, rather than the economy. Rancher Jon Justesen took some unorthodox stances for the Republican party, including arguing for an increase to the minimum wage and instating a sales tax. Medford resident Gordon Challstrom and Lyons real estate agent Bruce Cuff both argued for lower taxes.
The Primary Election is May 20, 2014. We’ll hear more about the Republican candidates for office with senior political reporter for The Oregonian Jeff Mapes.