LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -

The GOP is making a bold play for a U.S. Senate seat in reliably Democratic Oregon, where a Republican hasn't been elected to a statewide office in more than a decade.

Republicans in Washington, D.C., think they've found the right candidate in Monica Wehby, a children's brain surgeon who's raised more than $1 million and put her early opposition to President Barack Obama's health care law at the center of her campaign.

The race is shaping up to be a strong test of the GOP strategy of relentlessly using the health law against Democrats in hopes of regaining control of the Senate.

The rollout of the law in Oregon has been worse than in most other states, and Republicans are hoping a doctor has the credibility to capitalize on the resulting voter discontent.

The Republican nominee will face long odds against the incumbent, Democrat Jeff Merkley, who's in his first term. Merkley used Obama's coattails to slip past GOP Sen. Gordon Smith in 2008.