#MeToo In State Races
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Over the past year, the #MeToo movement has taken down members of the House and Senate, and also state lawmakers. On Tuesday, voters are going to decide the future of more than a dozen men running for state office who are accused of sexual misconduct, including in central Oregon, where a candidate has insisted he stay on the ballot despite calls for him to quit the race. Just a warning to our listeners - this story does contain a graphic description of a sexually inappropriate act. Lauren Dake from Oregon Public Broadcasting reports.
LAUREN DAKE, BYLINE: Moey Newbold hasn't opened her ballot yet, but when she does, she will see Dr. Nathan Boddie's name, the man who she says groped her in a bar several years ago.
MOEY NEWBOLD: All of a sudden, he slipped his hand down the back of my pants and under my underwear. I wasn't wearing a belt, and I wish I had been. I kind of, like, froze and was just kind of thinking like, how do I get out of this?
DAKE: The two knew each other from their work in environmental activism. Dr. Boddie denied Newbold's allegations, and in a statement he emailed to reporters, he went a step further. The headline in the local newspaper the next day read, "Boddie Claims Groping Accuser Has Substance Abuse Problems." Newbold, the accuser, says those claims are false.
NEWBOLD: He basically victim-blamed me and anyone who has substance abuse issues.
DAKE: Dr. Boddie is a city council member running for the state legislature in Bend, Ore. When allegations emerged this summer, members of his own party, including Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, called on him to withdraw from the race.
KATE BROWN: I'm not willing to compromise my values over an election. Time's up.
DAKE: But Dr. Boddie has refused to step aside. He is one of more than a dozen men running for state office across the nation who have been accused of sexual misconduct.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Chanting) Survivors united. We'll never be divided.
DAKE: On a warm fall day, people rally in Bend, Ore., to support Moey Newbold, saying they won't be voting for the doctor.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Chanting) We'll never be divided. Survivors united...
DAKE: Dr. Boddie declined to comment for this story. Since the accusation, his campaign has largely gone quiet. But he has emerged - once to remind people on Facebook that he still wants their vote, and another time when his fellow city councilors voted to censure him. At that meeting, he spoke about the allegations for the first time publicly.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
NATHAN BODDIE: I will say that in the current election cycle, it's incredibly difficult to defend one's self from things like this. It's kind of one of those no-win situations. However, I will say with all sympathy and humility, if I ever did anything to make an individual uncomfortable, I was not aware and I apologize.
DAKE: And Boddie still has supporters. Since the allegations surfaced, he's received emails from female supporters. One urged him to stay in the race, saying, quote, "there is no such thing as a perfect and pure candidate." Along with the others accused of misconduct, Dr. Boddie's political future is now in the hands of voters. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Dake in Bend, Ore. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.