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Blue America Congratulates and Welcomes Jeff Merkley (D-OR)


A few weeks ago Blue America looked at the Democratic primary for the Senate seat in Oregon and endorsed both candidates, Jeff Merkley and Steve Novick. Each looked like an absolutely excellent progressive leader who would be an incredible step up from Bush rubber stamp and faux moderate Gordon Smith.

Tuesday, Oregon voters also liked both but gave Jeff a three percentage point win, 237,258 (45%) to 221,402 (42%). In his spirited concession speech Steve Novick graciously endorsed Jeff and promised to work hard to help him win the seat. "He’s going to be a great United States senator, and we’re going to help him."

Blue America had promised to invite whichever of the two contenders who was chosen by Oregon voters over to FDL to meet our community and Jeff has taken some time out of his busy schedule today to do just that.

Jeff has been an outstanding Speaker of the House in Oregon, which is why there has been so much enthusiasm for him. He comes from humble rural Oregon origins and was the first in his family to go to college. He worked as a national security analyst for the Pentagon and later for Congress before he and his wife Mary returned to Oregon. He led Habitat for Humanity and worked to help families work their way into the middle class by purchasing a home, starting a business, or saving for college.

One of the reasons we are so enthusiastic about him– despite his being the choice of Chuck Schumer and the Democratic insiders– is that Jeff has vowed to take on the special interests, like the big insurance companies and big drug companies who underwrite Schumer’s power. Jeff has always fought for ordinary Oregonian families and everything in his record points to him continuing to do that in Washington. He understands the difference between so-called "free" trade and fair trade and will stand up to the big corporate interests pushing mindless bottom-line globalization. He’s a vocal supporter of closing tax loopholes for corporations that ship jobs overseas. He opposes the occupation of Iraq and has endorsed the Responsible Plan to End the War.

It was apparent that Smith feared running against Jeff. He spent half a million dollars smearing his record in rural Oregon, hoping to help knock him out in the primary. It didn’t work and now Smith is going to have to face his worst fear. Jeff has every intention of exposing and shattering the "Smith Myth" and make sure that every Oregonian sees the real Gordon Smith rubber stamp record which is neither moderate, independent nor bipartisan.

On substantive issues Gordon Smith votes with Bush and Cheney 90% of the time and against Ron Wyden 95% of the time. If you’d like to colunteer for Jeff’s campaign or donate to it or just find out more about the issues that are driving him, his website is a great resource. You might also want to take a look at Jeff’s 30 second TV spot:

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Howie Klein

Howie Klein

Howie Klein spent much of his life wandering around the world living in places like Afghanistan, Nepal, Holland and Morocco. He moved backed to America when Richard Nixon resigned and promptly helped start the first punk rock radio show in the country and then a DIY punk rock record label. His adventures in the music business ended a couple of years ago when he retired as president of Reprise Records. He began blogging almost immediately, starting Down With Tyranny. Jane taught him html while he held one of her dogs at a party. He is a raw foodist, lives in L.A., swims and hikes every day, thinks Howard Dean could be a president as great as FDR and will never be completely happy until Bush and Cheney are behind bars.