It seems hell hath no fury like a Republican candidate accused of being soft on Second Amendment rights.
After Republican 4th Congressional District candidate Michael Polen claimed his opponent Court Boice had a C- grade on gun rights, the two candidates fired off insults in dueling emails.
The Oregon Firearms Federation currently lists Boice’s grade as an A, but it had previously given him a C- score. Boice said the earlier score was an unfortunate mistake.
The dispute began April 26, when Polen told The News-Review that Boice was a “typical politician with a C- grade on guns.” Boice said by that time, the C- had already been changed to an A, and he had told Polen that in a phone call three days earlier.
“Sir, you are a nasty Politician and your willful deceit of the public will certainly catch up to you,” Boice wrote Polen in an email Friday.
Boice told The News-Review Monday if Republicans in his district believed the lower score was right, it could cost him the primary election.
Polen disputed Boice’s version of events. He said the phone call took place April 12, and the subject of the call was Boice urging Polen to drop out of the race. He said on April 26 he still thought Boice had a C- grade.
“On top of that I didn’t mention where your grade was from. It’s my 1st amendment right to have the opinion that you’re a C- on guns,” he wrote in an email Friday.
In the email, he said he’d be willing to revise his original statement to say, “Court Boice’s previously C- grade from OFF has since been changed to an A. However it is my personal opinion that I am the strongest candidate on the 2nd amendment.”
Polen told The News-Review on Monday that he believes he has the strongest pro-Second Amendment views because he is in favor of legalizing automatic weapons.
Polen received a B+ from OFF. The website indicates candidates like Polen, who haven’t held office, are ineligible for A grades because they don’t have a voting record. Boice is a Curry County commissioner, and told The News-Review he earned his A by passing a local ordinance that aimed to bolster Second Amendment rights.
Each said the other’s email was an attack on their character. Boice wrote that Polen had caused damage to his family, his reputation and his campaign and said he was seeking legal advice.
Polen called Boice out for making legal threats and for repeatedly urging Polen to drop out of the race.
“You are harming your reputation all by yourself,” he wrote.
Boice also took umbrage at opponent Stefan Strek’s inclusion of a Register-Guard editorial on his website, and included Strek in the email string. The editorial endorsed Boice, but Strek edited it to make it appear he had received the endorsement.
Strek, who is 27, replied that he had “20 years of experience with the legal industry.” He said it’s difficult for public figures to prove slander or libel lawsuits, and that he wouldn’t engage in such a lawsuit under any condition because he supports and loves freedom of speech.
“Any politician who cannot handle public discussion on their personal, or public, matters, may possibly be in the wrong career path,” he said.
He attached to his email a picture of five trophies, one for each Republican in the race.
“We’ve all worked very hard, and I’d like to give everyone a trophy to help fix everyone’s feelings,” he said.
Boice said he’s frustrated at Strek’s and Polen’s actions because he doesn’t think they have a shot at winning, but they’re hurting his.
He asked both of them in an April 24 email to throw their support to his campaign, saying it was doubtful either would win more than 6 percent of the vote. His fear is that they will pull enough of the vote away to allow another candidate, Art Robinson, to win. Robinson has four times won the Republican nomination but lost the general election to incumbent Peter DeFazio.
“I do know that if you get 10 percent combined — it will likely put Art ahead of me and we’ll lose a crucial opportunity that will not visit us again for many years,” Boice wrote to Polen and Strek.
Polen said he doesn’t understand why Boice thinks he’s the favored candidate. Polen also said he doesn’t know why Boice assumes he’d support him over Robinson if he did drop out of the race.