OR-SEN: Have the Republicans found a candidate to challenge Jeff Merkley?

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

OR-SEN: Have the Republicans found a candidate to challenge Jeff Merkley?

Rep. Jason Conger

The Bend Bulletin is reporting today (sorry, paywall) that Rep. Jason Conger (R-Bend) is considering a run against Senator Jeff Merkley.

“I'm thinking about it and looking very hard at the race and the opportunity," Conger said on Wednesday. ...

“The factors I'm considering aren't anything particularly sexy; it's pragmatic," Conger said. “It's everything from considering the scope and the scale of this effort that needs to be invested in a Senate campaign to looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the incumbent to considering very carefully and thoroughly the impact it could have on my family."

The Bulletin notes two items in Conger's policy portfolio:

As a state representative, he played a key role in helping Oregon State University-Cascades campus expand and move closer toward becoming a four-year university. He has also been vocal in his support for deeper cuts to the state's public employees pension system.

He's got a fairly compelling personal story -- from homeless to Harvard -- that could appeal to voters.

Here's his legislative campaign website. Not a lot there, but it's worth noting that he proudly trumpets his endorsements from the National Rifle Association, Oregon Right to Life, and "Oregonians for Food and Shelter" (the pesticide industry).

Here at BlueOregon, we're all big fans of Senator Merkley. But having only served at the federal level for 4.5 years, he's not nearly as well known as Senator Ron Wyden or Governor John Kitzhaber.

In 2014, without the assist on turnout from a presidential race, Merkley could have his hands full with a compelling, well-funded Republican candidate. Conger's compelling -- will he be well-funded?

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