The Oregon House Democrats suffered another blow in their effort to grow their current 35 to 25 advantage over House Republicans—this one self-inflicted.
The House Democratic campaign committee, FuturePac, today took the unusual step of withdrawing support for Dr. Nathan Boddie, a physician and Bend city councilor who is running to replace state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend), who is the Republican nominee for governor.
But in a news release this afternoon, FuturePac said it was withdrawing support because of "serious allegations of inappropriate behavior."
"Based on FuturePAC's investigation, I believe these allegations are credible, and we are very disappointed in Dr. Boddie," said Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek. "Elected leaders and candidates should be held to the highest standards, regardless of the political cost. With the information we have and upon review with legal counsel, I believe this is the only appropriate action to take."
Although the release from FuturePac didn't include specifics and FuturePac spokesman Aaron Fiedler declined to comment, sources tell WW the issue was sexist behavior and Boddie's use of a homophobic slur.
Boddie disputes the allegations against him.
"I only just learned of these outrageous accusations," Boddie tells WW in an email. "It's unfortunate that political discourse in Oregon has degraded to this level. I have spent my medical and political career helping increase access to care for women and LGBTQ patients and anyone who needs medical treatment."
Boddie appeared to have a good chance to win Buehler's seat because Democrats now hold a significant (5,661 voters) registration advantage in the district.
That registration advantage made House District 54 a prime target for Democrats as they try to stretch their current margin by one seat, which would give them the super-majority. In Oregon, new tax measures require a "yes" vote from a three-fifths (super-majority) of each chamber. Both the House and Senate Democrats are one vote shy of that target.
But with Democrats withdrawing their support—which means the money and other resources from NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon PAC, the Oregon Nurses Association, AFL-CIO Oregon, Bend Fire Fighters Local 227, AFSCME, and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters—GOP nominee Cheri Helt will now have a much better shot at holding onto Buehler's seat.
Helt, who with her husband owns two Bend restaurants, said she's just going to concentrate on her own campaign.
"As a working mom, parent of a teenage daughter and supporter of LGBTQ rights, I deplore sexist and homophobic behavior," Helt said. "My campaign will remain focused on improving education and being a moderate, inclusive and independent leader for Bend–not the troubles of my opponent or partisan politics."