On Friday, four days before the polls were set to open in Tuesday’s Republican U.S. Senate primary in Oregon, a City of Portland police report about an embarrassing, year-old stalking incident involving GOP frontrunner Dr. Monica Wehby suddenly appeared as a featured story at Politico.
Later that day, the Oregonian posted an audio recording of the 911 call from Wehby’s former boyfriend, lumber executive Andrew Miller, that prompted the report.
With 40 percent of the ballots in Tuesday’s primary already cast by mail, it is unclear what impact, if any, this story will have on Republican chances to take the Oregon Senate seat away from incumbent Senator Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who is considered potentially vulnerable due to his support for Obamacare and the epic crash of Oregon’s own Obamacare exchange.
Recent polls, taken before the story broke, show Wehby, the establishment favorite who has been endorsed by Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, had a lead 17 to 21 points over her nearest challenger, attorney Jason Conger.
However, the story will likely leave a mark on Wehby’s support.
Conger, a two-term state representative with a compelling personal story, wasted no time using the stalking incident to cast doubt on Wehby’s candidacy in a debate appearance in which the two participated Friday night.
“We can’t afford to take a risk of throwing this election away,” Conger said at the debate.
Wehby has attempted to deal with the report in a manner that reminds voters that, unlike Conger, she is a political rookie.
On Friday night, rather than address the reports, she dodged reporters after the debate and offered no comment.
During the debate, Wehby suggested Democratic smear tactics would not work against her in the general election.
“They can’t use that war on women stuff with me. They can’t say I hate women and children, puppy dogs and ponytails, and all of the other things that Republicans are supposed to hate,” Wehby told the audience.
The unusual nature of the personal relationship between Miller and Wehby added further press interest to the story. After the story broke, Miller said he regretted making the 911 call that resulted in the police report.
Subsequently, Miller has been a big supporter of Wehby’s campaign. He has donated the maximum amount to her campaign, hosted a political fundraiser, and donated more than $30,000 to a SuperPAC that is supporting Wehby and attacking Conger.
Miller’s participation in the SuperPAC has prompted the Oregon Democratic Party to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, claiming that the activities of the SuperPAC are likely coordinated with those of the Wehby campaign, since the two have such a close personal relationship.
Neither Miller nor Wehby has commented publicly on the current status of their personal relationship.
The most remarkable thing surrounding the story is that neither the Wehby campaign nor Miller appears to have been prepared for the possibility that it might become public. Nor did any of the high-profile establishment Republicans who endorsed her undertake a serious vetting of her candidacy that would have undoubtedly revealed the existence of the police report.
Both Wehby and Miller, since they were respectively the “subject” and “reporting party” in the Portland Police Bureau Special Report, case number 13-026578, filed on April 4, 2013, were well aware of its existence.
On Monday Breitbart News phoned the Portland Police Bureau Records Divison and was informed that all police reports, except those that are classified as “exempt” (primarily in crimes of sexual assault), are available to the public. Any citizen can obtain a “non-exempt” police report by sending in a written request that includes the date, location, and type of incident date, with the full names of the parties involved. Reports are sent via mail within 21 days to those who request them and pay the $10 fee.
It is clear that the story was fed to Politico by one of Wehby’s political opponents. In all likelihood, this opponent had the story for some time and waited to make it public at a time when it could cause Wehby’s candidacy maximum damage.
The question that Oregon Republican primary voters will answer when they vote is whether they consider this story significant or, as the Oregonian suggested, “much ado about nothing.”
The two candidates differ mainly on the issue of abortion. Conger is pro-life; Wehby is pro-choice.
Though Conger’s views align more closely with the Tea Party than Wehby’s, both have weaknesses due to their public records on Obamacare. As a state representative Conger voted in favor of establishing a state-run Obamacare exchange in Oregon, a $400 million debacle that has been subsequently abandoned by the state. Wehby, likewise, has a record of several positive statements about Obamacare prior to its implementation.