|By Salena Zito, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
A petite, soft-spoken mother of four who, as a physician, has been vocal about the failings of the Affordable Care Act, Wehby said frustrated patients inspired her to run.
"There is almost a palpable sense of frustration coming out, that this is the best it is going to get," Wehby told the Tribune-Review.
"Doctors are sometimes like bartenders or hairdressers -- people come in and talk to you about all of these issues that affect their lives. ... It has allowed me to understand how people feel and what their concerns are."
Merkley, a freshman senator who beat a two-term Republican in 2008, recently wrapped up an eight-town "Protecting the Promise to Our Seniors" tour to discuss
His campaign declined to make him available for an interview but emailed a statement saying Merkley believes "this election is about having a senator in
The race in
Wehby lagged in donations, raising about
That investment will help her attract more money, said
Wehby said she spends much of her time traveling the state to meet voters.
"I ask folks if they think their children will have the same opportunities that they had, and nobody ever raises their hand. It's just so sad," she said.
Like Merkley, Wehby is making the race one of clear choice. Her slogan, "Keep your doctor, change your senator," is designed to appeal to those impacted by
Though Wehby's stances match those of independent and libertarian voters tired of big government, bureaucratic scandals and oppressive regulations, she is adamant that her job as a senator would be to vote in line with her constituents, not a political party.
"We want someone who is going to look at an issue from all sides. Doctors are very logical people, not ideological," she said. "Things are more polarized than they have ever been, and (Merkley) is part of the problem. Depending on the year, he votes lockstep with the Democrats and (Majority Leader)
"That is not who we are as Oregonians. We are very independent-minded. We don't agree with anybody 98 percent of the time -- much less
From 2009 to 2012, Merkley voted with his party, on average, 94.4 percent of the time, according to The Political Guide, which tracks congressional votes.
Because she is not a "traditional Republican," Wehby "fits her state well," Brown said. And because this midterm election likely will favor Republicans, she said, "if there's going to be a time when a Republican may be able to win in a blue state, this is likely it."
"Something could happen to change the course of this race, but whatever that would be has not happened yet," he said.
Kondik points to serious challenges for Wehby in a Democratic-leaning state where a Republican has not won a presidential election since
Wehby says she is not deterred by poll numbers or mail voting. In 2011, she won a spot on the
"I ran as a change agent," she said of the
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