By Shelby Sebens
PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) - A candidate for Congress is soliciting mass urine samples from Oregonians as part of his day job as a scientist, a move some see as a novel approach to improving modern medicine and others call just another odd move in an offbeat political career.
Art Robinson, a Republican making his third bid to unseat Representative Peter DeFazio, a Democrat, last week sent out thousands of fliers across Oregon asking for volunteer urine samples.
Robinson, co-founder of the nonprofit Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, said he is hoping to get 15,000 samples to help calibrate a machine that could use urine profiles to help predict if a person will develop degenerative diseases such as cancer.
"We have to have urine sample form people from all walks of life," he said. "The only way to do this is to take large samples of urine from people and wait."
Robinson sought samples last year from folks in Josephine County, where his research institute in Cave Junction, is located, and got some 1,000 samples back.
"Some people think it's weird and others don't, but the bottom line is you just need to remember that he's a scientist; that's what they do," said Keith Trahern, chairman of the Josephine County Republican party. "From what I understand, it would be something that could benefit all of humanity, all of people."
Robinson said the mass fliers are unrelated to his race for Congress. He and DeFazio are both unopposed in their primaries.
"It's just what I do for a living," Robinson said
But Dean Byers, Douglas County Democratic Party Chairman, said he thinks Robinson's latest call for urine samples will just garner him more ridicule from all sides.
"Frankly, I think he has really shot himself in the foot with some of his past, really goofy statements that he has made," Byers said." There are going to be so many pee jokes going on toward Art Robinson."
Robinson is no stranger to the spotlight. His controversial stance on nuclear power published in his energy newsletter in the 1990s, suggesting the sprinkling of nuclear waste from above to build up resistance to diseases, made headlines last year in Mother Jones and the Huffington Post when he was announced as the new GOP leader for Oregon.
He has reportedly argued those comments were taken out of context.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Leslie Adler)