- Associated Press - Friday, July 18, 2014

REEDSPORT, Ore. (AP) - Republican leaders in Oregon have abandoned a legislative candidate after learning he served eight months in a Michigan jail on accusations he assaulted his mother’s boyfriend and then punched her in the mouth when she tried to intervene.

House Republican Leader Mike McLane of Powell Butte and state Chairman Art Robinson told Casey Runyan of Reedsport the party would not support him in his general election campaign in District 9 on the Oregon coast, the Salem Statesman Journal (https://stjr.nl/1wC7bMn) reported.

Runyan won a primary contest, defeating Coos County Republican Party Chairman Jason Payne by a handful of votes.

Then the story surfaced about his record in Michigan, where he grew up.

A sheriff’s report from Ogemaw County says he came to his mother’s house from a bar in 2004 and started the attack on her sleeping boyfriend, Walter Gembarowski, by punching him in the face.

“Walter woke up but was unable to do much to protect himself because the blankets restricted his movements,” it said. “Walter stated he could not see much due to blood getting in his eyes.”

Runyan’s mother told deputies that her son hit her in the mouth when she tried to break up the fight. She said he left the home, but returned later to rip out the phone as she spoke with a 911 dispatcher, and then drove off.

He was arrested on drunken driving and assault charges and pleaded guilty.

“Mr. Runyan’s actions are disturbing and do not reflect the principles and values of the House Republican Caucus,” said House GOP spokeswoman Kara Walker. “While the residents of House District 9 would be well served by a thoughtful Republican representative, we have chosen not to support Mr. Runyan and his campaign.”

Runyan said the experience was a nightmare but called the lack of support GOP support hypocritical. He said he has a clean record since that time, served in combat operations in Iraq as a Marine and, although he will have a beer or two at home, avoids bars and people who drink to get drunk.

“I’ve changed my relationship with alcohol,” Runyan said. “I said ‘If that’s what drinking like that is going to do to me, I’m not going to drink like that anymore.’”

The sheriff in Michigan, Howie Hanft, told the Statesman Journal he has long known Runyan and called him “an excellent young man” who learned from his mistakes.

“For someone to go through that and get back into the military and serve his country and get married and start a family,” Hanft said. “I think he’s doing great.”

Democrats have a voter registration edge in District 9, and Democratic incumbent Caddy McKeown of Coos Bay won with 55 percent of the vote in the last election.


Information from: Statesman Journal, https://www.statesmanjournal.com

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