PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Revered by liberals and reviled by conservatives, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren arrived in Oregon to generate money and enthusiasm for the re-election of Sen. Jeff Merkley.
The Democrat from Massachusetts fired up the crowd at a downtown hotel Wednesday with her familiar populist message that big banks and other powerful interests have rigged “the game,” and it’s up to Democrats like herself, Merkley and those in attendance to change it.
Among a list of priorities, Warren called for a higher minimum wage, help for students confronting the high price of college, and tougher regulations on Wall Street.
“Those with power fight to make sure that every rule tilts in their favor,” she said. “And everyone else just gets left behind.”
Warren, also in Oregon to promote her book, has been raising money for many fellow Democrats as the party tries to maintain control of the Senate. A thousand people bought tickets for the Merkley event — at $100 a pop.
Though Democrats have dominated statewide races in the 21st century, Merkley faces a potentially tough election against Monica Wehby, the Portland neurosurgeon who won last week’s Republican primary and has been fiercely critical of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
Her campaign, however, has been distracted recently by revelations that her ex-husband and a former boyfriend felt compelled to contact police as their relationships with Wehby were deteriorating.
A Republican National Committee official has called on Merkley to fire a staffer accused of leaking a 2013 police report to journalists. The report, which is public information, was filed after Wehby’s ex-boyfriend complained to an officer that she was harassing him.
Merkley said the staffer, Jamal Raad, worked for the Democratic Party of Oregon, not the campaign, when the police report emerged. He’s now the communications director for Merkley’s campaign.
“Oregonians want a senator who is willing to take on very powerful institutions like the big banks to make things work better, not to carry out attacks on staff members who weren’t even part of the opposing campaign,” Merkley said.
Merkley sidestepped questions about whether the police calls should matter to voters, saying it’s better to talk about policies.
He said he and Wehby will definitely debate before November.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press