Editorial: Conger deserved better

Published May 23, 2014 at 12:01AM

It’s not that Jason Conger necessarily deserved to win his Republican primary competition with Monica Weh­by. Nobody’s entitled to that. Voters decide for a multitude of reasons.

But he didn’t deserve inaccurate radio reports linking him to the tea party, or anonymous online comments wrongly claiming he was behind the discovery of police reports accusing Wehby of stalking and harassment.

And he didn’t deserve to be all-but-ignored by the Republican Party power brokers after they discovered Wehby and started pouring money and endorsements and strategy into her campaign.

Conger’s conservative positions on a few social issues were used to dismiss him in favor of Wehby, while his experience and solid accomplishments as a legislator got little attention. In fact, there was far more agreement than disagreement between the two candidates on issues that are relevant to serving in the U.S. Senate.

To win his seat in the Oregon Legislature, Conger defeated a Democratic incumbent in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans. He won widespread praise for his effective representation of his constituents’ interests, including spearheading the successful effort to win funds for the expansion of the graduate program at Oregon State University-Cascades Campus. He was active in reforms on public pensions and student transfer legislation, as well as defense of the charitable tax deduction.

Unlike Wehby, Conger is well-informed on the issues and able to think on his feet. He understands the political process, is not an ideologue, and isn’t afraid to deal with the press and public directly. As the usually liberal Willamette Week said in endorsing him, “When it comes to preparation, knowledge of the issues and an ability to express the results of clear thinking, there’s no contest.”

Conger is a far better legislator and person than the political process recognized.

He deserved better.