Saturday, August 09, 2008
Baker City Gets A Visit From Jeff Merkley
Friday evening Baker County Democrats held a dinner and speaking meeting for Rep Jeff Merkley as a part of his bid to unseat Sen Gordon Smith (OR-R). The meeting was attended by about 35 people including a couple Republicans and was deemed a success by everyone I was able to check with. Attendees were able to choose a no host dinner from a menu of 4 dinners and spend some informal time meeting Jeff personally. The candidate excels at this, it is easy to see that he enjoys people and that they matter to him as more than potential votes.
His speech covered a fair number of issues of which I'll highlight a couple, he personal story was given to show why it is that he is running and why he cares about what his policies cover. He is the son of a working man, primarily timber related and the first in his family to attend college. He worked for the Defense Dept as a specialist in nuclear weapons issues, as a Director of Habitat For Humanity before the Oregon House. He stressed his ability to get legislation accomplished, deservedly proud of that accomplishment. He believes NAFTA & CAFTA need to be renegotiated and that the tax structure surrounding offshoring needs to be fixed. He stressed that the National Security spending of the US is one of the gateways to improving US manufacturing if it is done here. He covered Health Care, agreeing with Sen Wyden on his Healthy Families Initiative as a gateway health care reform, noting that the status quo has strong reasons to work for the status quo.
Rep Merkley followed up the speech with a Q&A which was mostly about refining his speaking points, but in answer to a question of how often Baker City could expect to see him if he were elected, he noted that he had taken the same pledge Sen Wyden had to visit each of the counties each year with a Town Hall. He believes that if you intend to represent the citizens you need to hear from them.
Jeff Merkley is a comfortable speaker, his thoughts are organized and he is enthusiastic about them without bombast. He seems more saddened by the Rovian electoral behavior of Sen Smith than he is angered. He pointed up the inaccuracies and fake moderate guise of the Smith campaign without taking any real glee in their getting caught out at it. And, yes, they have been caught out by the media rather than just the Merkley campaign. Astonishingly to me, the Oregonian - ordinarily a Smith shill - has poked at Smith several times recently.
Polls are showing a tight race between the two, see-sawing the lead. Smith has more money than God himself, but he also has a voting record and as Jeff Merkley is better introduced to the state wide audience he should gain ground. Smith is regarded as handsome and he is fond of very expensive clothing and other externals but he is not comfortable with audiences - possibly a result of his patrician upbringing and lifestyle - an ordinary citizen of Oregon isn't exactly his metric.
Jeff Merkley has all the equipment to be a real leader in the US Senate, including the enthusiastic support of Sen Ron Wyden and he has all the attributes to be that leader for the ordinary citizens of our State and the Nation. Please remember that state wide campaigns are an expensive proposition and if we'd like to own our elections there is one indispensable tool, lots of small campaign contributions - there is a contribution box on my sidebar...