Jo Rae Perkins of Albany announces bid for U.S. Senate

2013-08-16T14:45:00Z 2013-08-17T10:44:05Z Jo Rae Perkins of Albany announces bid for U.S. SenateBy Mike McInally, Albany Democrat-Herald Albany Democrat Herald

Saying it was time to restore the United States to “the country the Founding Fathers envisioned,” a former chairwoman of the Linn County Republican Party on Friday became the first challenger to Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley in the 2014 election.

Jo Rae Perkins of Albany announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate in a series of public appearances, including a Friday morning appearance at the studios of Albany radio station KGAL.

She also planned Friday appearances in Eugene, Salem and Wilsonville.

Perkins served as the GOP chair in Linn County from January 2009 to November 2012. In the 2010 election, she ran for Albany mayor, but was defeated by Sharon Konopa.

Perkins said she made the initial decision to run for a congressional seat in 2009, but said her love for politics is “something that’s been inside me for years.” She recently graduated from Oregon State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science; before returning to college, she was a financial planner and adviser.

She made only one reference to Merkley in her opening comments, but declined to attack the freshman senator directly. “I’ve got better things to do,” she said.

In general, she said she stands for a smaller federal government and states’ rights. She said she would work to eliminate the federal budget deficit. She said she was a strong supporter of the Constitution’s Second Amendment, which protects gun ownership rights, and the Fourth Amendment, which offers protections against illegal searches and seizures.

She has signed the “Contract from America,” an agenda of conservative proposals developed in 2010 by tea party activists. Among other items, the Contract from America encourages senators and congressmen to identify the constitutionality of every new law; to simplify the federal tax system; and to work to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Merkley is up for re-election for the first time since he defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Gordon Smith in a close 2008 election.

Republican strategists have said they think the 2014 election might be their best opportunity to unseat Merkley, noting that it isn’t a presidential election year. The smaller election turnouts in off-year elections could help minimize the 181,000-voter edge Democrats hold among Oregon registered voters.

Merkley already has collected $1.8 million for his re-election bid.

A variety of other names have been mentioned as possible challengers to Merkley, but Perkins is the first one to officially announce her candidacy.

The Oregonian newspaper reported that two other Republicans have filed with the Federal Elections Commission, Karl P. King and Mark Allen Callahan, but neither has formally launched a campaign.

Perkins discounted a reporter’s suggestion that she doesn’t have much statewide name recognition yet: “I actually have grass-roots support around the state,” she said, and vowed to rely on what she called a grass-roots campaign: “I’m doing things totally differently,” she said.

But she acknowledged that, assuming other Republicans with higher statewide profiles decide not to challenge Merkley, she could claim a campaign advantage by being the first candidate out of the gate.

Perkins is married to her high school sweetheart, George, a self-employed carpet installation contractor. They have two adult children and five grandchildren, with another grandchild due in November.

Mike McInally is the editor of the Democrat-Herald. He can be reached at 541-812-6097 or

Copyright 2015 Albany Democrat Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(12) Comments

  1. bubbabear64
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    bubbabear64 - August 22, 2013 10:48 am
    I'm curious as to what this really means to Jo Rae:

    “the country the Founding Fathers envisioned,”
  2. Freedom writer
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    Freedom writer - August 18, 2013 7:32 pm

    Yes, the deficit IS dropping, but not from anything any Democrats are doing, UNLESS you're now taking proper credit for the sequester, which is WHY said deficit is dropping.

    All the "sky is falling" garbage Obama said would happen didn't either.

    You idiots can't have it both ways. If you blame Republicans for the sequester, then they get the credit for the deficit reductions that result.

    Only if you agree that the sequester was Obama's idea do you get to take any credit, and you'll have to share it at best.

    You Demos never fail to amaze me. MORONS!

    And Merkley one of our best senators EVER? What have you been smoking?
  3. Libertarian
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    Libertarian - August 18, 2013 4:04 pm
    It's only "ad hominem" if I can't back it up. I assure you that I can back it up. Do want to test me?
  4. Libertarian
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    Libertarian - August 18, 2013 3:58 pm
    Your source proves nothing. It just provides a quote from a book somebody wrote. It certainly says nothing specifically about the views of Jo Rae Perkins. If you have demonstrated anything, it’s that we should suspect that your progressive brain is made of inert goo like other progressive brains. You might be proven right in the end, but so far you're batting zero.

    Even your own source points out that many in the Tea Party are of libertarian philosophy. Libertarians tend to favor permitting same-sex marriage. I, for one, do not believe there is a supportable justification for disallowing it. There are some Constitutional issues regarding whether this is a matter for individual states to sort out, but I don’t see why this isn’t covered by the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

    The libertarian philosophy asserts that unless you can demonstrate that something is clearly and directly harmful, you can’t disallow it. Conversely, it asserts that anything that can be demonstrated to be clearly and directly harmful must be disallowed.

    Obamacare is clearly and directly harmful so it should not be compulsory. If I were to demand an exclusion from it, I would be doing no harm, so my exclusion should be allowed. I should not be required to pay for it, and I should not be required to participate. I am not owned by the collective. My rights take precedence over any tyrannical governmental attempt to deny them. I may be overpowered, but that merely means that my rights have been ignored. My rights don’t evaporate because a powerful, tyrannical government declares them null and void.
  5. Dave Muckey
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    Dave Muckey - August 18, 2013 1:24 pm
    This ignorant ad hominem is how we know why Libertarianism isn't viable in Oregon.
  6. Dave Muckey
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    Dave Muckey - August 18, 2013 1:22 pm
    Challenge accepted.
  7. Libertarian
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    Libertarian - August 18, 2013 1:15 pm
    I challenge you to document this assertion. I see no obvious evidence for this. If this is her position, she certainly has not made much of an issue of it so far. On the other side, Merkley's vote for Obamacare is undisputable and unforgiveable.
  8. Shakes
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    Shakes - August 18, 2013 7:15 am
    Well, I know she is against same sex partnership.. So I wouldn't want a leader like that.. She won't be getting a vote from me! Just sayin....
  9. Libertarian
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    Libertarian - August 17, 2013 4:27 pm
    While this may be true, it merely tells us that we might not be far from the mark if we described the typical Oregon voter (mainly from the Portland area) as an ignorant, brainwashed, moronic, evil collectivist. And, btw, inasmuch as Merkley voted for Obamacare, he clearly isn’t qualified for any position anywhere.
  10. Dave Muckey
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    Dave Muckey - August 17, 2013 12:49 pm
    Don't you know? Teahadists get all their facts from Fox, Rush and Beck; with some Erickson, Kroph and Larson thrown in to keep the crazy factor high.
  11. Happy Liberal
    Report Abuse
    Happy Liberal - August 17, 2013 12:14 pm
    Just what does she think she has that would be better than Jeff Merkley? Founding Fathers, ha. Merkley is one of the best senators Oregon has ever had. The deficit is dropping at an astounding rate if she would check her facts.
  12. Dave Muckey
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    Dave Muckey - August 16, 2013 4:44 pm
    Oregon will elect a Tea Partier to the Senate when hell freezes over.
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