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August 04, 2008

Republican Backs Obama

A guy gets 70% of the Republican primary vote, and how does he repay his party? By endorsing Barack Obama for president and the Democratic challenger to an incumbent Republican for Senate. At least that's how Joel Haugen, challenging Oregon Rep. David Wu, decided to thank his party's leadership for their support.

Haugen, a businessman and Army veteran, is running an uphill campaign in a district Wu has held onto against good Republican challengers. So instead of embracing fellow Republicans in a state that's moving increasingly left, Haugen is falling in line with Obama, and he's is listed on State House Speaker Jeff Merkley's website as a backer; Merkley is the Democratic nominee against Senator Gordon Smith.

The endorsements aren't something Haugen is hiding. "We certainly understand why people are so surprised to see" Haugen backing Obama, the campaign writes on its website, citing the Democrat's positions on foreign policy and the economy over John McCain's.

But Haugen's is a position that causes the Oregon Republican Party some heartburn. The state party is continuing to offer tacit support for Haugen's candidacy (though they're not returning his phone calls) while local party officials have shut him out of some events, PolitickerOR reported over the weekend.

Haugen isn't the only Oregon Republican acting like, well, not a Republican. In three advertisements this year, Smith himself has cited his ties to Democrats, including Obama and John Kerry, as he runs for a third term. If McCain was serious about competing on the West Coast, he's going to need a more loyal fan base.