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Our View: Merkley, with a nudge

Many Ashland residents have good reason to support U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley's bid for re-election. He's a reliably progressive Democrat with strong environmental credentials, and he can point to enough accomplishments in his first term to warrant voters giving him a second. His opponent has managed to trip over her own feet too many times to inspire confidence in her ability to be an effective senator.

In Merkley's first term, he was instrumental in beginning to reform the filibuster rules that have contributed to Senate gridlock. He worked with Sen. Carl Levin to win approval of the "Volcker rule," prohibiting big banks from trading securities for their own profit. Merkley also has worked to ease the burden of student loan debt and to protect the interests of American homeowners.

Challenger Monica Wehby began the campaign with much to recommend her: A moderate on social issues with a high-profile career as a pediatric neurosurgeon, she promised to bring an insider's knowledge of the health care industry to Washington. But a series of blunders, including plagiarism accusations, turned a promising campaign into a train wreck.

Regardless of whether Wehby truly plagiarized Karl Rove in her health care policies, just the fact that she thinks like Karl Rove on the issue is enough to send us the other way.

In Merkley's second term, we'd like to see him focus more on specific Oregon issues, especially getting on board with Sen. Ron Wyden's plan to boost timber harvests. We recommend voters send him back to Washington and encourage him to be the senator for all of Oregon.