PORTLAND – Republican senatorial candidates Monica Wehby and Jason Conger faced off in a debate at the City Club of Portland Friday with both candidates making oblique references to new allegations that Wehby once stalked a former boyfriend.
[Above: Video of the debate's 'Lightning Round']
Wehby attempted to portray herself as a pragmatic and moderate Republican candidate willing to work against partisan rancor in D.C..
Conger drove home the message that he was the candidate with the best chance to beat Democrat Jeff Merkely in the Nov. election. The debate came only hours after news surfaced that Wehby had been accused of stalking her ex-boyfriend in 2013.
Politico reported Friday morning that Wehby’s ex-boyfriend, timber executive Andrew Miller, called police on her after she entered his house without permission following a break-up.
Conger’s used the event as an opportunity to say that he was the more “electable” of the two.
However, it is Webhy that beat incumbent Merkleyy in a recent media poll. She in turn has attracted considerable funding from groups outside the state, because, she’s said Friday, she had made Merkly’s secure senate seat suddenly seem vulnerable.
More: Money pours in for Wehby
Wehby said she was, in fact so popular that she had drawn new harsh media scrutiny.
Wehby said her mother questioned if her campaign was worth it.
“’Why would you give up a job that you trained until 35 years old to do, where everybody loves you and take a job where people say all sorts of mean things about you on the internet, TV, radio newspaper,” Wehby said. “I have to say that has ratcheted up in the last couple of weeks.”
On the issues, the two candidates agreed on a slate of issues.
- Oppose new gun-control laws and an increase in the Federal minimum wage
- Oppose driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants
- Support the Keystone XL pipeline and term limits
Wehby however, trumpeted her long opposition to the Affordable Care Act and called it “a government takeover of 1/5 of our economy.”
Conger was pinched having to defend his vote in the state legislature in support of Cover Oregon.
“The state has wasted $250 million on a website that does not work,” Conger said. “If I had known, I wouldn’t have voted for it.”
Other issues they differed on:
- Wehby opposed the idea of GMO labeling while Conger supported it. Wehby, a doctor, said she supported the legalizing of marijuana as a controlled Schedule 2 substance. Conger said he did not know what a schedule 2 substance was
- Conger supported privatizing liquor sales in Oregon, Wehby was undecided
- Wehby was against an immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, Conger was undecided
Wehby repeatedly cast herself as a pragmatist who wanted to rise about ideological extremism in Washington D.C..
“If you are at one extreme or the other, you are not in the room when the problem is solved,” Wehby said.
Conger closed the debate with a cautionary reference to Wehby’s sudden controversy.
"Right now, there are many issues swirling around my opponent's candidacy," Conger said. "I don't have an opinion on that. But they show a risk. We can't afford to take risks."