Judging just from the significant increase in news releases from both campaigns since the Oregon primary the race between Jeff Merkley and Monica Wehby promises to be a no-holds-barred slugfest featuring some familiar themes. Republicans had been critical of Merkley's effectiveness in the U.S. Senate asking what he has accomplished as the Junior Senator from Oregon. Merkley's campaign is answering with a series of releases coupling Senator Wyden and Merkley as effective leaders in gaining legislation for the state. Today the focus narrowed to Merkley alone. Wehby's campaign is focused on claims that Merkley was behind leaks to the media regarding Wehby's private life just before the election.
As two appropriations bills moved through the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday, Senator Jeff Merkley's office says he delivered key wins for farmers and veterans in Oregon and across the country. Merkley's news release invokes a powerful name in Oregon politics saying " Last year, Merkley became the first Oregon Senator to sit on the powerful Appropriations Committee since his mentor Mark Hatfield. He vowed to use his new position to fight for Oregon's priorities and middle class families."
Thursday, the full Committee passed two bills: the Agriculture and the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Bills for FY15.
In the MilCon-VA Bill is said to improve the resources and treatments available to veterans. Merkley claims he worked to substantially increase funding for transportation for veterans in rural areas to VA clinics and hospitals – particularly important in large, rural states like Oregon. He says he fought to increase funding for medical and prosthetics research, which allows OHSU to partner with the Portland VA in developing cutting edge medical research and care for veterans.
Merkley's press team writes that the Senator "also worked across the aisle with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to push the VA to update its policies surrounding veterans' Agent Orange exposure. They passed a bipartisan amendment to urge the VA to form a registry for veterans who may have been exposed to Agent Orange outside of Vietnam and to report back to Congress on policies they are considering that would give these veterans access to treatment and compensation". Merkley has been pushing the VA for several years to change their policies on Agent Orange for veterans who served in contaminated spaces, such as C-123 planes, after the Vietnam war.
Meanwhile Merkley's opponent in the upcoming General Election, Dr. Monica Wehby, released a series of quotes from newspapers and CNN and MSNBC, calling the democrats leak of past police reports on Wehby's private life run-ins with her ex-husband and later a boyfriend, who had contributed significantly to her campaign, amounts to a dirty political attack and places democrats in the position of attacking women in politics. Wehy's campaign claims "When the outrageous personal attacks on Dr. Wehby and her family began, Jeff Merkley tried to distance himself, saying it was a personal matter and he had no knowledge of it prior to news reports. That statement is now highly suspect after the revelation that his longtime political confidant, Jamal Raad, was the person directly involved in orchestrating this smear campaign against Dr. Wehby", the release states "Worse, just days after the attack, Jeff Merkley had the audacity to promote Jamal Raad from his position at the Democratic Party of Oregon to Deputy Campaign Manager. Not only did Jeff Merkley likely know about the smear campaign but - in fact - approves of those types of tactics. The real war on women is being waged by Jeff Merkley and his allies."