It's common for unheralded candidates to challenge incumbents such as U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). For instance, Pavel Goberman, a Washington County fitness instructor and perennial candidate for a variety of offices is seeking to unseat Merkley in May.
What's highly unusual for Oregon is that Merkley is also getting a challenge from a resident of Brooklyn—the one in New York, not the neighborhood in Southeast Portland.
William Bryk, a lawyer, has previously entered primary races in several states in recent years, including Idaho, Indiana, New Hampshire, Alaska and Wyoming, all while living in New York.
Tony Green, a spokesman for Secretary of State Kate Brown, acknowledges it's very unusual for a non-Oregonian to run in an election here but says Bryk made a convincing legal argument.
"Here's our understanding," Green told WW
via email. "The US Constitution requires candidates for the US Congress to be an 'inhabitant' of the state at the time of election. He states that at the time of the election he will be a resident of Oregon."
Bryk filed to run against Merkley on Feb. 24. He says his goal here and in other states is to make sure that voters
have a choice, even if that choice is simply to vote against the
incumbent. He says in 2004, for instance, he noticed that an incumbent, U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) faced no opposition in the primary or general elections, and he thought that was bad for democracy.
"Even in the Russian Federation, you can vote against people by drawing a line through their names on the ballot," Bryk says.
His legal research led him to the conclusion—which states have accepted—that federal candidates must only be residents of the states where the seek office in the general election, not the primary.
Bryk says if he somehow defeats Merkley on May 20, he will pack up his wife and cats and leave New York.
"If the good people of Oregon should choose to elect me," Bryk tells WW
, "I will move there forthwith."