After a hard fought primary contest and a record 63% Democratic turnout culminating in yesterday's mail-in vote deadline, congratulations are in order for Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley on his 45-41 win over Steve Novick for the Democratic nomination for senate. As we are nationally, Oregon Democrats were clearly divided during this primary, but in a sign that they intend to come together to defeat Gordon Smith in November, Novick rallied his troops in his concession speech, urging them:
...we need to get behind Jeff Merkley for the US Senate.
The general election may be mere hours old, but it's already begun in earnest. In his victory speech last night, Jeff Merkley made clear how he intends to run against Smith:
Merkley said that Gordon Smith has been a "rubber stamp" for George Bush, and declared that Oregon is ready for change.
If you want to change Washington D.C. and set a new direction for America, then join our fight to deliver hope and opportunity to every single American. If you want more of the same - an agenda scripted by the most powerful corporate interests - then vote for Gordon Smith.
Gordon Smith has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. Smith supported Bush tax breaks for oil companies at a time of record gas prices [Senate vote #222, 6/21/07]. Smith supported Bush tax loopholes for corporations that ship jobs overseas [Senate vote #63, 3/17/05]. Smith supported Bush as he spent America into more than 9 trillion dollars of debt [TreasuryDirect.gov, accessed 5/20/08]. Smith stood with Bush when he led America into an unjust war in Iraq with no plan to bring American soldiers home [Senate vote #237, 10/11/02].
And even before the results were in, Gordon Smith had already released an ad, fleeing from what he knows is his downfall this year: his Bush rubberstamp voting record.
Watch it below:
Polls show that Oregon voters are already distrustful of Smith and ready for new representation. Not only did a recent Rasmussen poll and a DSCC poll both show Smith topping out at 45% with Merkley just 3 points behind, but the DSCC poll shows Smith's job approval rating at 29%, just 7% above George Bush in the state. That is devastating.
Smith is a perfect example of one of these faux moderate Republicans who pretend to be independent-minded members of congress, accurately representing the blue state or district from which they hail, but actually just allowing and enabling Bush and his radical allies in congress for the last 7 and a half years. They are all going to try to muddy the waters and essentially run as Democrats and we can't let them get away with it. Help Jeff Merkley defeat Gordon Smith in November over at Act Blue. Would be great if we could help Senate Guru meet his 20 Twenties For Merkley fundraising goal. Who's in?
There is a fierce primary battle being waged in Oregon for the Democratic nomination to take on Senator Gordon Smith in November between OR House speaker Jeff Merkley and longtime Democratic activist/consultant Steve Novick. Smith has been truly one of the worst examples of Republicans who pretend to be moderate and independent-minded yet have voted time and time again to advance the Bush agenda. If the new Rasmussen Reports survey out of Oregon is any indication, though, voters are onto Smith and are ready to replace him with a real Democrat, not a Republican who pretends to be one every 6 years.
According to Rasmussen, both Democrats are within striking distance of Smith and rising, with the better known Merkley polling a bit better within the margin of error. Interestingly, there's also evidence that the primary itself, while bruising at times, has benefitted both Democrats and damaged Smith.
500 OR LVs interviewed May 7, MoE +/- 4%
This is dangerous territory for Smith as an incumbent consistently polling below the magic 50%. And as for the primary, fast approaching on May 20, despite the fact that Novick has been polling slightly better than his opponent, the Rasmussen results may be a leading indicator of some momentum for Jeff Merkley as his upward trajectory against Smith is more consistent and pronounced, which appears to have Gordon Smith running scared as he's already launched an attack ad against Merkley and Merkley alone, indicating that, as Blue Oregon points out:
...Smith is trying to hand select his opponent. And he wants Novick.
While we've stayed largely out of picking sides in this race, I have to say Senate Guru, whose blog should be among your daily reads if you're interested in the senate races this cycle, makes a strong case for Jeff Merkley in his endorsement. And Novick's tendency to bash Democrats doesn't exactly inspire confidence.
Are you following the race? Do you have a preference, make the case for your candidate in the comments.
As I wrote the other day, Gordon Smith released a bizarre ad in which he claims that somehow he, the incumbent Republican, represents the real change in the Oregon senate race. Today, Jeff Merkley, one of the Democrats running in the primary to challenge Smith in November, has released an ad attacking Smith for his ad.
Interesting that Merkley would spend valuable resources going after Smith instead of Steve Novick, his opponent in the May 20th primary, or even to brand himself more although certainly other ads he's released have done that. It does appear, both looking at this ad and his previous one, that part of Merkley's strategy is to sort of ignore Steve Novick and cast himself as the presumptive nominee against Gordon Smith. It's a time-honored tradition but perhaps a risky one in a contest where his primary challenger is polling so strongly.
Remember after Barack Obama won Iowa, how Mitt Romney suddenly decided he was going to run as an agent of change? It was fairly comical since his policies, such as they were, offered nothing but more of the same, but even funnier is witnessing an incumbent Republican senator trying to run for re-election with a change message. That's exactly what Sen. Gordon Smith does in his new attack ad on the two Democrats running to face him in November (h/t Blue Oregon):
Hilarious. Incumbency = change, got it?
Clearly, Smith is trying to associate himself, if only peripherally, with Obama's message in advance of Oregon's primary in which Obama is favored but this is a perfect example of a lesson that Smith and anyone else -- Democrats included -- who hopes to ride an Obama wave (whether or not he is the nominee) should learn: just saying the word 'change' or using Obama buzzwords doesn't make you Obama. Remember Kathleen Sebelius's off-key snoozefest of a SOTU response from January? Hurl. As for Republicans using it, well, I think we can expect to see more of this as it's just the latest manifestation of the blurring strategy by so-called moderate Republicans running for their lives in blue states. Of course, if such a strategy is executed as incompetently as this Smith ad, then we shouldn't really have too much trouble this fall.
But, the Say Anything Senator, rather than standing by his opposition to the Responsible Plan and standing by his voting record to continue the war, takes hypocrisy to a new level by seeking credit for authoring the plan.