The baffling outcome in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

I have to admit it, folks. Last week's primary election baffled me.

Specifically, the outcome in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Mark Callahan -- the "blah blah blah" guy -- won the opportunity to run against (and lose to) Senator Ron Wyden.

Callahan won the four-way race with 38%, besting Sam Carpenter (32%), Faye Stewart (18%), and Dan Laschober (11%).

But for the life of me, I can't figure out how he did it. WW's Nigel Jaquiss calls it a "head-scratcher".

  • He didn't have the most money. By April 26, Callahan had raised just $10,000 compared to Stewart's $116,000 and Carpenter's $47,000.

  • He didn't have the big right-wing endorsements. Oregon Right to Life endorsed Stewart. Jason Conger and Monica Wehby endorsed Carpenter. In fact, Callahan didn't list a single endorsement in his voter's pamphlet statement.

  • He doesn't have any public service experience. As a Lane County Commissioner, Stewart's the one with the long resume.

  • He didn't have talk radio on his side. Last year, Lars Larson said " I'm not convinced that he has a clue."

  • He didn't take off on social media. Carpenter's 20,000 fans dwarf Callahan's 1900. And he's only got 21 subscribers on YouTube.

  • It's not ballot order. Based on the random alphabet used by elections officials, Carpenter was listed first, followed by Callahan.

One possible theory: Carpenter described himself as "Trumpish", while Callahan compared himself to Ted Cruz on his website. But even if that was appealing to Oregon GOP voters, is it really possible that over 118,000 voters found their way to his website? Unlikely.

And I've not seen any reporting or analysis that attempts to figure it out. So let's figure it out together, dear readers.

How did Mark Callahan pull it off? Was there an underground campaign we didn't see? What are we missing?