Dr. Monica Wehby, the Republican pediatric neurosurgeon challenging Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), made history Tuesday as the first GOP Senate candidate to run a statewide ad expressing her support for marriage equality.
As Politico first reported, Wehby's ad stars Ben West, who served as a plaintiff in the lawsuit that struck down the state's constitutional ban against same-sex marriage earlier this year.
“Marrying my husband was the happiest day of my life,” West says in the ad. “I was proud of Oregon and our country. But there’s a lot of work left to do. Whether it’s standing up for equality or for the unemployed or for the next generation, we need leaders who have the courage to do what’s right. That’s why I support Monica Wehby. I know she’ll fight for every Oregon family, including mine.”
The ad shows images from West's wedding and closes with a picture of him, his husband and their child.
However, Wehby has taken a variety of positions on marriage equality and LGBT-related issues that stand in contrast with her new campaign ad. When asked in May whether she supported changing the state's constitution to allow same-sex marriage, Wehby suggested that the government should not interfere.
"I think this is an issue of personal freedom," she told Oregon Public Broadcasting Radio. "And I don’t think the government should be involved in those personal decisions.”
The Merkley campaign has also criticized her for hedging about whether to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. After Wehby refused to say whether she supported the legislation during an interview with a conservative radio host in June, her campaign reaffirmed her support for the measure in an interview with the Oregonian.
Wehby's ad is the only Senate spot this cycle to mention her support for marriage equality. If she were to beat Merkley, she'd become just the fifth Republican senator in Congress' upper chamber who supports same-sex marriage, joining Sens. Mark Kirk (Ill.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).
Wehby faces an uphill climb in deep-blue Oregon, where a Republican hasn't been elected to the U.S. Senate since 2002. HuffPost Pollster, which combines all publicly available polling data, shows Wehby trailing Merkly by 15 percentage points.