Finally. A little scandal to juice up what has been a pretty dull primary season. Oregon news media have published reports of Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby's difficult break-ups with her ex-husband and ex-boyfriend. (I warned you: Scandal-wise, this is "little.")
Wehby, the favorite in today's primary to face incumbent Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, is a pro-choice Republican surgeon who really, really doesn't like Obamacare. Last Friday, Politico published a story stating that a former boyfriend had accused Wehby in 2013 of "stalking" him and "harassing" his employees. The former boyfriend, Andrew Miller, whom the Oregonian calls a "timber baron" -- at least there's that -- says he supports Wehby's candidacy.
Further documents released Monday by Portland police detailed 2007 and 2009 incidents when Wehby's ex-husband, Jim Grant, accused her of "ongoing harassment" and refusing to leave until she saw their children.
What's interesting about the allegations is not so much that they exist but when they became public. Wehby didn't jump into the race last week. And based on the Oregonian's stories, these accusations sure look like the result of opposition research by the Merkley forces. The Oregonian reported that on April 17, a Democratic Party employee requested access to the Miller police report.
Timing matters more in Oregon campaigns than in some others because the state votes by mail, with many voters sending in ballots well before primary day.
As of May 18, two days after the Politico story hit, more than 423,000 ballots, 19.9 percent of registered voters, had already been returned to Oregon's Secretary of State. Given that turnout in 2010, the last midterm election, was about 42 percent, that could mean about half the electorate has already voted.
Which raises the question of why the harassment stories hit so late. If Democrats wanted to create problems for Wehby in the primary, shouldn't they have injected the stories into the media earlier? And if they want to create problems for her in the general election, why dump the negative stuff now? If she wins today's primary, the harassment stories will linger, but only in the rearview mirror. I'm confused. But that's better than being bored.
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