Gordon Smith decided to wade into the Oregon Democratic Senate Primary, yesterday, launching an ad attacking Oregon Speaker of the House Jeff Merkley. Some questioned Smiths motives, speculating why Smith would go after Merkley but speculation is no longer needed. A new Rassmussen poll tells us all we need to know. Jeff Merkley is the best Democratic candidate to take on Smith, and despite a contested primary Merkley is statistically tied with Smith in a general election match up. That is why Gordon Smith is going after Jeff Merkley, because he is trying get Steve Novick to do his dirty work, dispatching Smith’s strongest opponent in the primary.
Rassmussen’s polling coupled with SUSA’s earlier polling, paints a clear picture of the Oregon Senate race. The polling shows that early in the race both the Democratic primary and general election match ups were muddled by a lack of name identification. That was before Merkley had made any advertising buys. Now, Jeff Merkley is surging in the polls as voters learn about who he is, his accomplishments in the legislature, and his vision for Oregon and our nation. Voters are clearly responding to his message, with a 17 point improvement in the Survey USA primary poll in just three weeks, and gaining 15 points against Smith since February.
Jeff Merkley is getting the kind of traction that Gordon Smith fears. Smith has been cultivating his nice guy moderate image farce for years and will be able to brush attack dog Steve Novick, whose penchant making “undiplomatic” statements has already gotten him in trouble, out of the way with ease. So Smith, by hand picking Novick as his opponent, is trying to use Novick to do Smith’s most difficult task, defeating Jeff Merkley. There is no other compelling explanation to why Smith would go after Merkley and only Merkley in a Democratic primary.
Jeff Merkley will beat Gordon Smith. He is a fantastic legislator that has methodically passed good progressive legislation while Speaker, and even when he was in the minority. Merkley has a way of framing progressive values as shared values, that Smith won’t be able to undermine with attack ads. Merkley has also created a broad coalition of both local grassroots activists and national groups to take on Smith. Jeff Merkley is what Smith fears.
We cannot let Gordon Smith’s attacks on Democrats in a primary allow him to hand pick a weak opponent. As Oregon Democrats lets do our job before May 20th to make sure Gordon Smith trembles in fear for the next six months by nominating Jeff Merkley.
Since October, I have put in more hours volunteering on Jeff Merkley’s campaign for United States Senate than I can count. I do it because I believe that not only will Jeff beat the Republican incumbent Gordon Smith, but that he will become one of the best United States Senators in the country. In D.C., Jeff will be able to fight for the things that he has in Oregon, ensuring LGBT rights, enhancing protections for unions and working people, and protecting the environment. My job is to make that happen any way I can, so some fellow bloggers and I are doing a one day fundraiser today for Jeff to try to raise an ambitious $5,000 for the campaign. I don’t know a more deserving candidate, so if you could please help us reach our goal with a donation to Jeff (if you work in Oregon remember that there is a tax credit for your first $50 of political contributions) I would be very grateful.
I support Jeff Merkley because I was there. I was there when Jeff Merkley led Democrats back to power in the House the right way. Merkley got the party to embrace the grassroots, partnering with organizations like the Bus Project, SEIU, and the Oregon League of Conservation voters to knock on an obscene number of doors and call even more voters. Merkley help create an Oregon version of Dean’s 50 State Strategy for House candidates, rebuilding the Democratic brand across the state, by, for the first time ever, explicitly diverting Future PAC (the House Dems election PAC) resources to rural candidates and candidates running in heavily Republican areas.
I was also there in the legislature, interning for one of the freshmen Democrats that Merkley helped get elected, to see the most progressive legislative session in 30 years. I watched Jeff Merkley lead at time when the path was more than uncertain. One of my fellow interns once said “I know Jeff Merkley accomplished a lot in the legislature because I had to file every damn one of those accomplishments.” In their endorsement of Merkley, The Eugene Register Guard pointed out:
It’s telling that of the 31 members of the House Democratic caucus, all are supporting Merkley. They have nothing to fear from him, because he can’t run for re-election to the Legislature while pursuing a U.S. Senate seat. Merkley imposed tight discipline to keep his slender majority united and treated Republicans fairly in such matters as committee representation and did it without making enemies of any of his Democratic colleagues. A more convincing demonstration of leadership would be hard to find, and it’s a type of leadership badly needed in hyper-partisan national politics.
Time and time again Jeff delivered progressive legislation that matches my values. Merkley stood up for the LGBTQ community, helped workers organize and fight for living wage jobs, and protected our environment. No other candidate has been fighting for these values affirmatively by passing much needed legislation.
But more than the past Jeff Merkley represents how we can talk about progressive values as mainstream values, breaking out of the rights’ false claim to the center. Back in December, I said this about Merkley’s environmental platform:
First, look at the language Merkley uses, connecting the environment with jobs, improving the economy, and fiscal savings. For so long Republicans have created a false choice between saving the environment, and saving the economy and peoples jobs. Jeff Merkley destroys that false dichotomy.
We need more Senators like Jeff Merkley who will beat Gordon Smith by running a positive campaign based on his record of progressive change and vision for our country. You can make that a reality. Please join me and other bloggers by donating to Jeff’s campaign today, you will make a huge difference in making our country a more progressive place.
On why he’s different than Gordan Smith and his positions on issues that matter to Oregonians in the current economic slump.
Impressed? Help us raise $5K today:
This morning got an amazing opportunity to sit next to Senator Max Cleland over breakfast, and it was amazing. Senator Cleland was in town to campaign with Democratic Senate candidate and Speaker of the Oregon House, Jeff Merkley, and did a breakfast with winners of a silent auction from the previous night. I was lucky enough to be invited when a fellow blogger won and his wife declined the early morning meal.
Senator Cleland, even more so than his reputation, is a dynamic and charismatic man. He spoke fondly of Jeff Merkley, saying that he brings the right kind of experience to job. Senator Cleland talked about how Merkley’s experience as an national security analyst in the Defense Department and for Congress would allow Merkley to “differentiate between real and manufactured threats.” Senator Cleland said that on issues of war and piece “it is hard to find candidates that get it, and Jeff Merkley gets it.”
Senator Cleland also talked about Merkley’s experience in the legislature. Cleland said that there was a saying in Georgia “many a innocent men was sent to the Georgia legislature.” Cleland talked about how being a State Representative or State Senator as he was allows you to connect with the people you serve and prepares you for the US Senate in an irreplaceable way. Then the former Senator from Georgia talked about how Merkley came to be Speaker after leading a band of progressives to wrest control from Republicans in the State House.
After Senator Cleland’s passionate remarks on behalf of Speaker Merkley, I was able become a sponge and soak up Cleland’s wisdom on a variety of subjects from stories of his experience in Vietnam, to the current quagmire in Iraq, to the failure of George Bush to capture Osama bin Laden and defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan. I got to ask about a subject Cleland, a former head of the VA has a lot of knowledge about, knows a lot: brain injuries with our veterans. Cleland commended the work of Senator Patty Murray and then launched into a diatribe about the VA’s failures to address the issue, even returning money earmarked for the treatment of brain injuries, that was quite impressive. He said that only a change in the administration and the culture of the VA to focus on these devastating and undiagnosed combat injuries will solve the problem. Both Democrats, he said, will get the job done.
But in order for a Democratic President to be effective, Senator Cleland said, we need more Democrats in the Senate. Senator Max Cleland made it clear that Jeff Merkley is a uniquely qualified leader to beat Gordon Smith and serve Oregon in the United States Senate.
For such a great candidate, several bloggers are doing a fundraiser trying to raise $5k tomorrow May 1st.
Get ready for it!
I have been doing far more phone banking this cycle than usual being a canvassing lover, so yesterday was a great opportunity to get out with State Representative Brian Clem and the Willamette Students for Jeff Merkley knocking on doors.
With the sun making it warm but comfortable, you couldn’t have asked for a better day from mother nature. The turf was very hospitable, as we were in a precinct with a high concentration of Democrats. We were in Rep. Clem’s home base both because I walked past his house several times but also the district overwhelmingly turned out for the now freshman Democrat in 2006 (though to be fair, it’s hard to win by 22 points with out most of the district turning out for you).
Canvassing for a primary is just different than doing so in a general. People are more open and interested in having an engaged conversation. I had a great run talking to voters, with only 3 out of 16 voters all day ending up undecided or supporting someone else in the primary. Through out this primary, I have found that if you just talk to people about who Jeff Merkley is and what he has done for Oregon, they are quite eager to vote for him.
This is true with even former Novick supporters. I was talking to this couple that described themself “hard core Novick supporters” when I initially approached them. I asked them why they were supporting the other guy and they talked about wanting to shake things up. When I told them about how Merkley shook up the House Democrats after he was elected Democratic leader, returning to the grassroots with organizations like the Bus Project and running strong progressive candidates like Brian Clem, and followed that by leading the most progressive legislative session in decades, they came around fast. That is the beauty of canvassing, the ability to talk to people on a nice Sunday and engage in democracy at its most basic levell. It allows people look beyond the pidgeon hole terms that fly about in an election, and when they do they know the candidate that will be the best United States Senator and the candidate that is best equiped to take on Gordon Smith are one in the same, Speaker Jeff Merkley.
What is the number one thing that politicians say about themselves? Politicians claim they are not like a typical politician. In that way, Steve Novick and his ads, despite their claims once again represent politics as usual. Novick’s new ad involves him pulling the plug on a narrator describing him as tough, smart, tireless, and the only hope for real change. According to Novick those statements are too much like other politicians. The problem is those so called “typical” statements are exactly what Novick claims to be. The outsider meme that Novick tried pushing earlier in the campaign and shows up in his ads has repeatedly been debunked as nothing more than empty rhetoric, how typical.
Furthermore, Steve Novick claims to always tell the truth, is this the truth?:
The problem with Novick saying that his comments were merely “undiplomatic” is that he didn’t say that he was wrong to make them, rather he tried to spin his comments. Calling an inspirational leader of the party and someone that you agree with 95% of the time, like Barack Obama a fraud because of a tiny policy difference isn’t right; it is caustic and crass. If Steve Novick’s campaign was always about telling the truth he would have apologized for his outlandish attacks on good Democrats when he was clearly in the wrong, rather than spinning away responsibility like a typical politician.
How much of Steve Novick’s campaign is typical politicial rhetoric and spin? That’s for you to decide.
The first major paper to endorse a candidate in the Democratic Senate primary joined the likes of the AFL-CIO, SEIU, the Sierra Club, Basic Rights Oregon, and Planned Parenthood in Jeff Merkley’s corner. The Eugene Register Guard penned a glowing endorsement of Merkley based on his leadership in the legislature and his ability to become an outstanding US Senator:
A more important question is which candidate can best serve Oregon’s and the nation’s interests in Washington, D.C. Jeff Merkley isn’t the jazziest campaigner of the six Democrats on the May 20 ballot, but he is by far the best prepared. Democratic voters should nominate him…
It’s telling that of the 31 members of the House Democratic caucus, all are supporting Merkley. They have nothing to fear from him, because he can’t run for re-election to the Legislature while pursuing a U.S. Senate seat. Merkley imposed tight discipline to keep his slender majority united and treated Republicans fairly in such matters as committee representation — and did it without making enemies of any of his Democratic colleagues. A more convincing demonstration of leadership would be hard to find, and it’s a type of leadership badly needed in hyper-partisan national politics.
In most elections for high profile positions like President or Senate newspaper endorsements, while always welcome, generally are over rated as a means of voter persuasion. This election is an exception. Coverage of the Senate race has not been as extensive this year, often being overshadowed by a presidential primary that has lasted longer than any primary in recent memory. Thus, for everyone except politicos deeply embroiled in the race, this election profiles more like a down ballot race. In down ballot or races with lower amounts of information available to voters such as the Senate primary, voters look to trusted sources of information such as the voters pamphlets or newspaper endorsements.
The Eugene Register Guard is the state’s second largest newspaper and should have some sway over an area that is generally progressive leaning. Furthermore, the Register Guard clearly delineates the positioning of the candidates, with Merkley the adept legislator and leader ready to take on the challenge of US Senator, Novick a feisty candidate but lacking the experience and the campaign infrastructure to take on Smith, and Candy Neville the passionate antiwar activist. By doing so, the Register Guard positions Neville and Novick as inexperienced candidates that will split the protest vote in Neville’s home base of Eugene.
The Register Guard clearly thought that Speaker Jeff Merkley was far and away the best candidate for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate, and envisions Merkley’s race with Smith one of the best in the country. In an election with low information, newspapers are a trusted source of advice for voters, and the second largest newspaper got behind Jeff Merkley.