An Oregon Republican candidate for U.S. Senate is getting a lot of valuable free name recognition after a video of his highly unsuccessful endorsement interview with a Portland alternative newspaper has gone viral.
Mark Callahan recently joined other Senate candidates, hoping to win the chance to unseat Democrat incumbent Jeff Merkley, at the offices of the Willamette Week to, in the paper's words, "explore questions that we think matter most to our readers."
Oregon's primary election is May 20.
As one of Callahan's opponents, Republican Jo Rae Perkins – who was not present at the meeting but responding to questions by speaker phone – was answering a question, Callahan noticed a Willamette Weekly reporter, Nigel Jaquiss, writing "blah blah blah blah blah" on his notepad, and he confronted Jaquiss.
"You want to talk about disrespect? I see what you're writing down there. You just wrote down 'blah blah blah blah blah' for everything that Jo Rae said. Jo Rae is a respectable woman. Why are you not respecting her by writing 'blah blah blah blah blah' on your notepad?" said an agitated Callahan, pointing his finger across the table.
The moderator of the interview committee broke in, saying he wanted to move on with a question and advised Callahan to answer respectfully.
Callahan shot back: "You have to give respect in order to get respect. Right now on that side of the table, you're not giving very much respect to the five of us and our time here."
Their verbal tussle continued briefly, then Callahan was asked whether he believed climate change is a myth or reality.
"Myth," he fired back.
Jaquiss, the blah-blah-blah reporter, sarcastically asked, "Where are you on the Easter bunny?"
"Are these really the questions I was called here to answer?" demanded Callahan. "I called you out for putting 'blah blah blah blah blah' on your notepad and now you're asking me questions like this? Really? Are we talking about this now?
"OK, how about you ask a very serious and respectful question instead of asking a little childish question?"
The committee leader told Callahan he had just asked him about climate change, and he now wanted to give someone else a chance to respond.
"If you're not going to let me I'm going ask you to leave. That's two strikes."
Callahan laughed and said, "Who do you think you are?"
Callahan was then told to leave the meeting.
"You're done here," the moderator said. "This is neither a fair or balanced meeting. This is a meeting for us to decide ..."
Callahan broke in: "I know it's a meeting being asked by disrespectful thin-skinned liberals like yourself."
Someone on the committee can then be heard saying, "There's the door."
Callahan then stood to leave, saying he had better things to do with his time.
"You clearly do," said the moderator.
The Willamette Week posted a one-hour-42-minute video of the entire candidate-endorsement meeting online. The volatile exchange with Callahan took up just under two minutes of that.
In response to the attention the short clip has received, the Willamette Weekly put the blame on Callahan.
"Not everyone likes to follow the rules, and on rare occasion we have asked candidates to leave the endorsement interviews. That's what happened when Callahan came to our offices."
The weekly's readers were not impressed.
- R1010101H: "You guys did not cover yourself with glory here. You come off as a bunch of smarmy over-aged hipster doofuses. Grow the hell up."
- Jane Sixpack: "You guys behaved badly. He was right to call you on it, and you were 'thin skinned' and extremely arrogant to kick him out."
- patteel: "Your 'reporter' is a nasty little worm. He is very unprofessional and extremely rude."
- R1010101H: "No conservative here, either. But this goofy frat boy performance from the WW reporter actually elevated Callahan. He came off as the only principled person in the room."
- bbwh: "Everyone should have walked out."
Since his first foray into Oregon politics in 2009 when he sought appointment to fill a vacancy as a Democrat state senator, he has run for county commissioner (received 2.07% of the vote), run as a Pacific Green Party third-party candidate (received 3.04% of the vote), run for school board (lost with 21% of the vote), run for president of the U.S. (received 358 votes in Arizona and 20 in New Hampshire) and run for the Oregon House of Delegates (losing with 31% of the votes.
It remains to be seen if his confrontation with Willamette Week will boost his chances on May 20.
A new Daily Caller poll has put Republican frontrunner Monica Wehby ahead of Merkley for the first time in the race. Wehby is a pediatric neurosurgeon and first-time candidate.