If nothing else, the pediatric neurosurgeon who’s vying to challenge Sen. Jeff Merkley in Oregon has a top flight ad team. Dr. Monica Wehby kicked off her campaign with a pair of stellar web videos; the first sought to answer the question, “who am I, and why am I running?” The second aimed to define her potential opponent by essentially asking, “who is the incumbent, and why should Oregonians replace him?” Both spots were impactful and well produced. Then came the on-air television ads. Round one featured Wehby addressing the camera directly, touting her medical background in criticizing Obamacare as a failure. Round two was a moving and positive character ad that managed to go viral in an age in which local political commercials only tend to garner national attention for hyper-negativity or bizarre gimmickry. “Trust” relied on neither, yet it’s attracted more than 113,000 YouTube views along with a burst of media accolades. Here’s round three:
“Accountability” is a more traditional contrast (ie, negative) ad than her previous offerings, but even so, it feels atypical. The overall tone is upbeat. The message is more about Wehby rolling up her sleeves and fixing a broken system than relentlessly slamming Merkley. Absent are predictable attack ad tropes like a theatrical voiceover, Halloween-style music, and grainy, unflattering images of the designated villain. Wehby hits out-of-touch unaccountable “career politicians” who are driving up the national debt and doing harm US healthcare system. When she derides Merkley and company for “still refus[ing] to admit Obamacare’s a disaster,” she’s delivering that critique in a blue state where Obamacare has been, well, a complete disaster. So much so, in fact, that the FBI is on the case. The primary election is less than two weeks away, and a new independent poll of the race shows Wehby opening up a sizable lead over her closest GOP competitor:
A Taxpayer Association of Oregon PAC poll conducted by a national pollster helps shed light on one of the most contested and anticipated U.S. Senate races in a decade. In addition to gauging where the candidates stack up the statewide poll goes a step further by looking at what issues are most important (topline, crosstabs). Here are the results: Candidate Monica Wehby has the lead in the race with 42.9% Rep. Jason Conger comes in second with 22.3%.The other candidates poll at 4% for Mark Callahan, 2.7% for Tim Crawley and 2.5% for Jo Rae Perkins. Undecideds polled at 25.5%. Monica’s advantage is her favorability which is rated at 55% favorable, Conger at 36%…The survey was conducted between May 1-4, 2014, and included 607 likely GOP Primary Election voters in Oregon. Media inquires on the poll can be made to the poll master Fritz Wenzel at Wenzel Strategies.
Allahpundit covered a Daily Caller poll released last week that measured a dead heat in a hypothetical Wehby/Merkley race. It’s premature to pull Oregon’s race into the “toss up” category based on a lone survey, but if the polling trajectory begins to show her as a bona fide threat to Merkley, Democrats will be desperate to destroy her. That won’t be easy. She’s a bright, pragmatic woman who is thus far running a disciplined and smart campaign. Wehby doesn’t come across as an ideologue who might scare away Oregon’s blue-leaning swing voters, and she’s adeptly positioning her status as a political novice as a selling point. Her disposition is reassuring and calm — sort of like a surgeon who literally saves babies for a living. As far as demagoguery targets go, Wehby poses unique challenges for the paint-by-numbers Democratic attack machine. Which is not to say that they’ll be entirely bereft of exploitable material. Her early on-air campaign is aimed just as much at casual viewers as it is at Republican partisans ahead of the primary. She’s working on boosting her favorables, and appears to be doing a hell of a job at it. For now. Even if she ultimately loses — not a foregone conclusion by any means — every dollar the DSCC is forced to spend in a state Barack Obama carried by a dozen points two years ago is a dollar they can’t spend in places like Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Michigan, and Colorado. If Wehby prevails on May 20, the ensuing general election contest could be a fascinating one to watch. Stay tuned.