Monica Wehby, the GOP nominee to replace Sen. Jeff Merkely in the next Congress, is speaking out in a TV ad about same-sex marriage. But in a move that might surprise some folks who haven’t been paying attention to movement on the issue within the party, Wehby isn’t blasting same-sex marriage. She’s actually highlighting her support for it.
The ad features Ben West, who successfully sued to overturn Oregon’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and was created by FP1 Strategies. The ad is the first of its kind from a Republican Senate nominee, though Republican Senators Rob Portman, Susan Collins, Mark Kirk, and Lisa Murkowski are on record supporting the freedom to marry, as are an array of Republican House members and, notably, Republican nominees for the governorships of Massachusetts and California.
The Real Clear Politics average gives Merkely a 14.5 percent lead, despite Oregon’s history of voting for Republicans statewide and delivering up close races. In 2010, Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley lost by just one point to Gov. John Kitzhaber. In 2008, incumbent Republican Senator Gordon Smith lost to Merkely by 3 points. Smith was a supporter of hate crimes legislation and extension of domestic partner benefits to federal employees while in the Senate, so pro-gay rights Republicans are not unfamiliar to the Oregon electorate.