U.S. Senate candidate Monica Wehby defeated legislator Jason Conger in Oregon's GOP primary election Tuesday night, according to a projection from FOX 12 political analyst Tim Hibbitts.
That sets up a November showdown between Wehby and incumbent U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley.
Hibbitts said it will be an uphill battle for Wehby in Oregon, where Democrats have won 33 of the last 36 statewide partisan elections. They've also won 19 in a row, and Republicans haven't won a statewide race since 2002.
"That said, each election cycle is different," Hibbitts said. "It has its own dynamics and I would rate Sen. Merkley a strong favorite, but I don't think he's an absolute certain winner."
Wehby is a pediatric neurosurgeon. She was considered the front-runner going into Tuesday night's primary race, but media reports of past relationship problems surfaced in the past few days.
During her victory speech Tuesday night, Wehby said she isn't perfect, but called those reports "vicious, ugly, hateful attacks."
Wehby said she's really just like so many other Oregonians.
"I'm a working mom who balances a career that she loves with children she absolutely adores and would do anything to protect," Wehby told her supporters.
"We all know that the best way to defeat a bully is to stand up to them and that is exactly what we are going to do," she later added.
Hibbitts said time will tell whether those reports damage her chances of winning in November.
"The last few days have been pretty choppy for her," Hibbitts said. "She's got a lot of work to repair what damage has been done with the broader electorate the last few days and she's going to have to convince voters that she's up to the job of being a U.S. Senator."
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