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Merkley Draws First Challenger In 2014 Senate Race

Northwest News Network, Chris Lehman

Oregon Democratic U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley has drawn his first challenger for the 2014 U.S. Senate race. Republican businesswoman Jo Rae Perkins announced Friday that she’s seeking the GOP nomination in next year’s election.

Perkins has never held elected office but has chaired the Linn County Republican Party.

In a press conference outside the Oregon capitol in Salem, Perkins described herself as socially and fiscally conservative. “I’m not an elitist. I’m not a wealthy woman,” she said. “I’m a hard-working woman married to a carpet installation contractor.”

Perkins has worked as a real estate agent and a financial planner in Albany, Oregon.

The winner of the Republican nomination will likely face Jeff Merkley, who is completing his first term in the U.S. Senate. Merkley formerly served as Speaker of the Oregon House before upsetting incumbent Republican Gordon Smith in 2008.

On the Web:

Campaign sites: Jo Rae Perkins - Jeff Merkley

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