Republicans have been singing the Beaver State blues as they haven’t won a major statewide race in over a decade while being shut out of the Governor’s mansion and the state’s electoral college votes since the 1980s. But despite this extended Democratic sweep Oregon, isn’t as blue as its electoral history implies. This year the Republicans have an opportunity to end their longtime losing streak and perhaps turn Oregon a bit more purple. Here’s what’s going on:
Governor: Like Gov. Jerry Brown in California, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber is running for a record 4th term this November. However, unlike his neighbor to the south he faces a much more perilous path to reelection. Bruised from the disastrous launch of the state’s Obamacare marketplace, a recent survey from Harper polling shows his favorability underwater and he only leads his likely Republican challenger, State Rep. Dennis Richardson, by 3 percentage points. And while Kitzhaber has a decent fundraising lead, it is not too much of gap for Richardson to overcome. So while right now this race Leans Democrat, the GOP has a decent shot at making this a close race over these next few months.
Senate: Freshman Democrat Sen. Jeff Merkley is running for reelection and in a blue state like Oregon he has the advantage in November. However, the GOP has shown signs of life and its two candidates, State Rep. Jason Conger and pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby, have kept Merkley under 50% in a recent Harper poll. In particular, the NRSC is touting Wehby as a credible challenger and she recently released this powerful ad that touts her trustworthiness as a doctor and a potential senator. That being said, whether either Republican candidate can go the full distance still remains to be seen and Merkley currently has a 10 to 1 fundraising advantage over both of them. Until the Republicans can close this gap, it’s hard to see them having a chance at this seat and so this race is Likely Democratic.