PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The political group linked to the conservative Koch brothers has canceled television ad time reserved in October for the race between Sen. Jeff Merkley and Republican challenger Monica Wehby.
Freedom Partners spokesman James Davis confirmed the decision Friday.
Politico reported Wednesday that Freedom Partners officials acknowledged the possibility of canceling October ads if polling didn't show Wehby making headway.
Davis said the super PAC is not leaving the race, noting it will run $1.6 million in TV ads this month. A new one criticizes Merkley for the increase in federal debt.
"Today is the absolute first day that the ad will be seen in Oregon on TV," he said. "So to say we're pulling out of Oregon would just be incredibly misleading."
Davis said the fall election season is a "dynamic environment," and the political action committee could repurchase Oregon ad time in October, though at higher prices than what had been reserved.
Charles and David Koch are billionaires who have spent heavily to back conservative causes and candidates throughout the country. The brothers are despised by many Democrats, and the Merkley campaign has responded to their presence in the race with an ad accusing Wehby of sharing an agenda with them that includes tax breaks for the wealthy and "gutting" the Clean Air Act.
"We fully expect the Koch brothers to continue investing in Monica Wehby," said Lindsey O'Brien, press secretary for Merkley's campaign.
Wehby spokesman Dean Petrone did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Oregon has not voted for a Republican in a statewide race since 2002, when then-Sen. Gordon Smith won six more years. Merkley defeated him in 2008 and has been deemed the favorite for his re-election bid against Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon.
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