Campaign Watch: The week in Oregon politics

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley went after Republican U.S. Senate candidate Monica Wehby on taxes. Wehby hired a new campaign manager. And Gov. John Kitzhaber hauled in the dough. Here’s a look at the week’s most interesting developments in Oregon politics.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS LAUNCH WEBSITE:

Kitzhaber’s has had to answer for the problems at Cover Oregon, and House Republicans think their Democratic counterparts should too.

The Republicans’ political action committee launched a website this week aiming to tarnish legislative Democrats with the same Cover Oregon political stain that’s dogged Kitzhaber.

Their website, www.takebackor.com , features a video mashing up optimistic statements by Kitzhaber and House Speaker Tina Kotek, a Portland Democrat, with last year’s cheery Cover Oregon commercial and news reports about the Cover Oregon problems.

The GOP site calls Cover Oregon a “national embarrassment” and says “Salem Democrats have failed Oregonians for too long.”

Cover Oregon’s online enrollment system never launched for the general public and is the subject of investigations by the FBI and a GOP-controlled congressional committee.

“Leadership at all levels should be held accountable for what’s going on in the state,” said Kara Walker, a spokeswoman for the House Republicans.

All House Democrats and more than half of the Republicans voted for the 2011 legislation that created Cover Oregon.

CAMPAIGNS PLAY MUSICAL CHAIRS:

Wehby’s campaign manager, Charlie Pearce, is moving over to run Dennis Richardson’s campaign for governor.

Pearce takes over for Tom Maginnis, who steered Richardson through his not-particularly-competitive primary as a volunteer, said campaign spokeswoman Meredith Glacken. Maginnis had planned all along to become a senior adviser during the general, Glacken said.

“I’m looking forward to joining Dennis’ team and doing all that I can to make sure his general election effort is successful,” Pearce said in an email.

Pearce will be working in his new gig with a former rival. Jordan Conger, who started this week as Richardson’s field director, ran his father Jason Conger’s campaign for U.S. Senate, which he lost to Wehby.

Michael Antonopoulos is taking over as campaign manager at Wehby’s operation. Antonopoulos was previously the manager of Matt Whitaker’s run for the GOP Senate nomination in Iowa. Whitaker finished fourth in a field of five candidates. Before the Iowa race, Antonopoulos worked in GOP politics in California.

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