Published On: Sun, Sep 8th, 2013

Four Challenge Merkley’s U.S. Senate Seat for 2014 Election

Story last updated on September 13th, 2013 at 4:24 pm.

Jeff Merkley, Democrat U.S. Senator since 2008, has some competition in the 2014 U.S. Senate elections. Currently, four citizens have announced their intent to strive towards the chance to serve as one of Oregon’s Senators in Washington, D.C.

While no newcomer to political races, Republican Mark Callahan believes he has an excellent shot of beating Merkley to become an Oregon Senator. Callahan says he knows from experience how Merkley operates and treats his constituents. His actions have motivated Callahan to strive to represent all his constituents, not simply the ones in the same political party.

Photo: Lane Today

Mark Callahan
Photo: Elizabeth Cully Prociw

Callahan became involved in politics after becoming frustrated with the direction current politicians were taking the country. Callahan believes the country is headed towards trouble because it has fallen away from the guidelines of the Constitution, coupled with people having the wrong view of the government’s role. “When you know what you work for, you value it better,” he said.

If elected to the Senate, turning the country in a more conservative direction would be one of Callahan’s goals. Others include ending ObamaCare (the Affordable Care Act), making the country fiscally responsible to lower debt, and having a conservative majority in both the House and Senate.

Callahan has never held a political office, but he says running for a variety of positions, testifying before various councils, and working with political groups helped prepare him. In 2000, he received a bachelor of science, Business Administration/Management Information Systems and a Pre-Law minor from Oregon State University. Previously he has run for school board positions, county commissioner, Oregon state senator, and U.S. president in 2012.

Running as a Republican in a mostly Democrat state, Callahan says the key for being successful is a matter of better marketing, not only in Oregon, but on a national level as well. Callahan will be going up against fellow Republican, Jo Rae Perkins. He says he respects her and knows she has her own reasons for running.

Pavel Goberman is the one opposing Democrat running in the race at this time. However, in past state and national elections, he has run as a Republican, Democrat and Libertarian. His track record includes a run for U.S. Senate in 2010 and 2008, Congress in 2011, BOLI Commissioner in 2008, Oregon State Senate, Oregon State Representative, and the Mayor of Beaverton.

Courtesy of Pavel Goberman Facebook page

Pavel Goberman
Courtesy of Pavel Goberman Facebook page

Although never elected for an office, Goberman says he continues to run for the people and to end the judicial tyranny he sees. He has great hopes of initiating his plan to create millions of jobs, save millions of dollars on health care, reduce the national deficit, and improve traffic systems. “I am not running to occupy space, I am a business man,” said Goberman. The manager of a successful fitness business, Goberman plans to take a similar business approach to Washington DC.

He says he is not concerned with his lack of political experience because he had no experience or schooling as a manager, but was successful as one nevertheless. His guidelines for national and state issues are to do what is best for United States citizens. He says he will strive to promote freedom, strictly follow the Constitution, and stay honest in office.

Goberman plans to fund his campaign from his personal savings, without taking a single donation from other sources. He hopes for the chance to debate other Senate-hopefuls and incumbent Jeff Merkley on public debates provided by nonprofit organizations, such as Oregon Public Broadcasting. He sees this method of campaigning as an alternative to spending large amounts of money, which could be better used elsewhere and to keep alternative interests out of elections. Goberman sees it the duty of the country to provide the chance for open discussion between candidates.

Currently the only nonpartisan candidate running, Karl King (photo unavailable) was motivated to join the Senate race after watching political changes globally and nationally. He remembers hearing of countries around the world stepping up to change circumstances. In the U.S. he was shocked with the attitude and decisions of lawmakers. King decided he could either sit back and be angry like everyone else or say he stood up and tried.

Although he acknowledges going up against a deeply funded, well-known incumbent like Merkley does not have favorable odds, he is satisfied knowing he tried to voice his opinion. In his own campaign, King will take no funds from PACs or more than 100 dollars from a single individual.

Corporate funding of political campaigns is an issue King would like to work towards ending if elected to office. Strengthening privacy and fixing the budget by cutting government spending is also on his to-do list. Local goals include strengthening forest fire prevention and helping Oregonians utilize their public lands. King says it the desire of his constituents, not his personal feelings, which will dictate his decisions with key issues. He also sees himself as someone who will stay reasonable in office. “Think of how someone using common sense would vote, and that is what I will do,” said King.

King has no previous political experience, but says experience is part of the problem in government today. He says politicians get stuck in the game of politics and lose sight of what is important. He believes he can offer a fresh outlook to the Senate.

Jo Rae Perkins, Republican, has never held political office before. But that does not stop the recent Oregon State University political science graduate from believing she has what it takes to unseat Merkley. Despite Merkley having over $1.8 million in his campaign war chest, she is not intimidated, saying he started with zero dollars too, and that money has been coming into her campaign.

Courtesy of "Jo Rae Perkins for U.S. Senate Facebook Page"

Jo Rae Perkins
Courtesy of “Jo Rae Perkins for U.S. Senate Facebook Page”

Perkins says she is running for the Senate because she has watched the freedoms and rights of the American people being eroded away. She added the Founding Fathers were concerned about an expanding government, and feels states should have more control of the laws within their states than the federal government does. Perkins feels that voters need to be educated about candidates and to be open to change. “For people who are truly tired of the same old stuff, stop reelecting the same people,” she said.

If elected, Perkins intends to keep a three-part promise regarding bills. She plans to read every bill before voting, keep bills free of pork spending and unrelated projects, and will not vote on a bill that violates her social and fiscal conservative values. Perkins would also like to fix what she sees as broken in the government, by getting rid of the IRS, reining in government spending, and making federal agencies that overlap more efficient and effective. Although not a fan of Super PACs, she understands the high likelihood that they will campaign on her behalf.

Although she has never held political office, Perkins was the vice chair of the Linn County Republican Central Committee from November 2008 to January 2009, when she took over as chair. She was elected to the same position in 2010, which she held until November 2012. However, she told Lane Today she knew in 2009 she would run for U.S. Senate.

Lane Today contacted Oregon GOP chair Art Robinson to see if the party planned to put any other candidates on the 2014 Senate ballot, but was unable to reach him. The deadline for entering the race is December 9, 2013.

Incumbent Merkley has held his Senate seat for one term, after serving as a Oregon State Representative in 1998, Democratic Leader in 2003, and Speaker in 2007. According to the Federal Election Commission Merkley has $1, 859,653 in total receipts, $596,006 in total disbursements, and $1,808,061 cash in hand.

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  1. Merkley was elected in 2008 – this is his first (and only) term as a U.S. Senator.

  2. Betsy says:

    Nice article, thanks for posting! : )

  3. Jeff Whittaker says:

    JoRae Perkins is correct, Senator Merkley was elected in 08 and has only served one term. (only term).

  4. ron erickson says:

    Merkley must go. He is way too far left, even coming from Oregon. I would support Jo Rae or Mark.

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