The Republican candidate for Oregon governor, Bud Pierce, was booed at a Portland debate Friday when he suggested successful women are safe from sexual violence. This came after his opponent, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, admitted to being a victim of domestic violence.
“I know what it feels like to be a victim of domestic violence,” Brown said. “I know what it feels like to represent clients who can’t get restraining orders on abusive partners.”
Pierce criticized Brown for not doing enough to drive down the state’s high rate of sexual violence against women as well as persistent pay disparities.
“A woman that has a great education and training and a great job is not susceptible to this kind of abuse by men, women or anyone,” Pierce said.
The crowd at the Portland City Club gasped at the remark. Brown was quick to respond.
“I grew up in a middle-class family. I went to law school,” she said. “I know what it feels like to be paid less — substantially less — than the male lawyer in the office next to me.”
Pierce issued a written apology Friday evening after the debate.
“I know that any women, regardless of economic status, can be subject to domestic violence and sexual abuse,” Pierce wrote. “Sexual and physical abuse is morally wrong, is against the law, and must be opposed with all efforts.”
Pierce also apologized to Brown and said his comments were misinterpreted. He responded to the boos by telling the crowd he also believed in strong laws against sexual violence.
A recent report published by the Women’s Foundation of Oregon found women and girls are more likely to be victims of sexual violence than the national average, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.