Five races to watch in today's Oregon primaries

Five races to watch in today's Oregon primaries
In this March 19, 2014 photo, Oregon Republican Senate candidate, State Rep. Jason Conger, right, speaks as fellow candidate Portland lawyer Tim Crawley, looks on, during a candidate forum in Lake Oswego, Ore. Republicans are making a bold play for a U.S. Senate seat in Oregon, a reliably Democratic state that hasn't elected a Republican to a statewide office in more than a decade. Republicans think they've found the right candidate in Monica Wehby, a children's brain surgeon who's raised more than $1 million and put her early opposition to the president's health law at the center of her campaign to help her party regain a Senate majority. (AP Photo/Jonathan J. Cooper)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Ballots are due Tuesday in Oregon's Republican and Democratic primaries. Five contested races stand out as especially notable.

U.S. SENATE, GOP

Republicans are deciding between Monica Wehby, who has the backing of the Washington establishment and much of the money in the race, and state Rep. Jason Conger of Bend, who is supported by social conservatives and many of the Republicans in the state Legislature.

Wehby got off to a strong start but stumbled in the final week, when police reports came to light showing her ex-husband and a former boyfriend called police to report that she was harassing them as their relationships fell apart. No charges came from either claim.

The reports may affect some voters' decisions, but likely came too late to shift the outcome.

Three other candidates are also in the race, Mark Callahan, Tim Crowley and Joe Rae Perkins.

STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 18, GOP

In one of several races that pit grassroots conservatives against establishment candidates, David Darnell of Hubbard is challenging incumbent Rep. Vic Gilliam of Silverton.

Darnell, the chairman of the Marion County GOP, says Gilliam should be replaced because he's voted with Democrats to create a health insurance exchange and grand driving privileges to illegal immigrants.

Gilliam says he's proudly Republican but will never blindly support the party.

STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 23, GOP

Like Gilliam, Republican Rep. Jim Thompson of Dallas is also facing a challenge from the conservative chairman of his county party, Michael Nearman.

Thompson angered some in his party when he came out in favor of a proposed ballot measure that would remove a gay marriage ban from the state constitution.

Nearly all of Nearman's $67,000 in campaign contributions has come from two social conservative groups, Oregon Family Council and Oregon Right to Life.

STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 25, GOP

This race for an open seat centered in Keizer has attracted significant attention.

Conservative talk-radio host Bill Post is backed by groups representing gun owners and social conservatives. He's excited Republicans who want a sharp-tongued conservative in the Legislature.

But he's spooked the business community and moderate wings of the party, who are throwing their support to businesswoman Barbara Jensen.

STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 58, GOP

One Eastern Oregon race features the same grassroots vs. establishment struggle.

In this district, centered in Pendleton, former community college president John Turner is the heir apparent to longtime Rep. Bob Jenson, who's retiring.

Greg Barreto touts his opposition to abortion, his support for gun rights and distaste for government regulation.