Smith '08: Run, Jefferson Smith, Run!

By Jason Skelton of Portland, Oregon. Jason is a lawyer, soon-to-be-father, and one of the early organizers of the Oregon Bus Project. He also points out, "Jefferson Smith is a friend of mine, but I speak only for myself."

Speculation about who should unseat Sen. Gordon Smith has already begun. Jefferson Smith is the right Democrat to run against Gordon Smith because he is uniquely qualified to beat an entrenched incumbent.

Jefferson's qualifications are manifold. First, he is more than 30 years of age , which meets the minimum criteria established by the US Constitution. You can't fake that!

Perhaps just as important, Jefferson's work with the Oregon Bus Project demonstrates his ability to turn out voters and volunteers all over Oregon. It has repeatedly done what no one thought could be done: turn out thousands of volunteers for individual state legislative races. In 2002, while being all-volunteer, volunteers of all ages knocked on nearly 70,000 doors. In 2004, Bus volunteers knocked on over 100,000 doors from Ashland to Coos Bay to Gresham. We need someone with this organizing energy to have a chance against Gordon Smith's money and name recognition.

Since that time, the Bus Project has spawned Building Blocks, which registered some 20,000 young voters in Oregon, Trick or Vote, Onward Oregon and Politicorps. As important as these results are, the Bus Project has created opportunities for civic engagement that so many people were obviously longing for. That is why I became involved.

And his values are beyond reproach. He walked away from a prestigious (and financially lucrative) attorney position with one of Portland's largest law firms to lead the Bus Project. As cool as the Bus is, giving up a steady paycheck is a significant sacrifice.

What's more, progressive values on health care, education, environment, equal rights, economic strength and election reform guide the Bus Project. These values were applied in choosing the candidates the Bus Project helped elect to the Oregon legislature. Indeed, without the Bus Project, I am confident we would not have a Democratic majority in the legislature today.

In sum, we need a Democrat with great progressive values that can create an inspired grass roots campaign to take down a well-moneyed incumbent.

Jefferson Smith is that Democrat.

  • Ian (unverified)

    Couldn't agree more. Anyone who has every worked with Jefferson or ever heard him speak knows he's a real straight shooter and a dedicated movement player. Damn, I'd love to be inspired by a new Oregon voice, and I think Jefferson's would be right on key.

    I'm giddy just thinking about a Six E platform:

    Education Environment Economic strength Equal rights Election reform ‘Ealth Care

    Go, Jefferson, go!

  • Galen (unverified)

    I know Jefferson well, and I continue to volunteer my time for the Bus Project in large part because Jefferson is a singularly inspiring figure. I truly believe that he has the ability to bring about change that many of us have only dreamed of up to this point.

    Nobody would do more for the progressive movement and for Oregon, and I would be ecstatic to have his voice in DC.

  • Jessica (unverified)

    I saw Jefferson speak at a new leaders council meeting a while back and he was terrific. I don't know him personally but just from hearing his speech I was really inspired. It's interesting to read that he left a position like that to run a non profit.

  • Missed the kool-aid (unverified)

    First Novick, now Jefferson Smith. I half expect a post urging Mark Weiner to run. Why do people feel that political operatives will resonate with the voters? For the US Senate, I want to see seasoned candidates who have been in the arena and tested. I appreciate Jefferson Smith's advocacy and passion but he needs to accomplish more than the Bus Project to get my vote. Smith is too important of a target for us to turn to a novice candidate with a thin public resume.

  • selfimportantpolitico (unverified)

    An interesting idea. I think he should go for it! I have seen him speak a few times and think him quite a talent. He is certainly a better choice than Gordon Smith or even Westlund.

  • Skeptic in SW (unverified)

    This is an incredible grassroots uprising!
    I'm sure Mr. Smith is shocked, shocked that these posts were written, as he will be when his bus staff, politicorps, family, friends, and volunteers flood the blog with posts. I suspect it will be about 30 seconds from now when I'll receive an Onward Oregon email telling me of Smith's greatness. At least Steve Novack wrote his own declaration rather than this bogus, staged, transparent effort.
    If Smith is seriously looking at it, he should just say it and not manufacture a call from the masses. While the resume seems a little thin to me (he quit a job to do some good, which is admirable, but so do thousands of people who join the PeaceCorps). One asset that wasn't mentioned is Smith's dedication to promoting himself; that should be an asset. God help anyone who gets between him and or a reporter. That said, we should have more choices than Novack or Smith. Oregon's in trouble.

  • (Show?)

    Back when fmr VA Gov Mark Warner ran against John Warner for Senate, the popular bumper stickers in NoVA were "Mark Not John!"

    "Jefferson Not Gordon?"

    has an odder ring, but maybe I could get used to it...

  • CW (unverified)

    I would love to see the primary between Steve Novick and Jefferson Smith. Jefferson is probably the only person in Oregon politics who keep with Novick in a debate. I want to see this one, so..

    Run, Jefferson Smith, Run.

  • Oh Please (unverified)

    I agree. This looks, smells and feels like astroturf to me.

  • Christy Splitt (unverified)

    Jefferson is great for all the reasons stated and more. I have worked closely with him over the past 3 years and I will campaign diligently to get him into office when he is ready to run... But, as far as I know, he has been entirely focused on the Bus Project. The reason that someone else wrote this is because Jeff is busy doing his job and doing it well.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)

    Jefferson would be a dynamite candidate. He really is the complete package. But he's so valuable growing and inspiring the coolest volunteer political group in the state, I'd hate to lose him to D.C.

    If he runs, he's got my vote -- and time and money. If he doesn't, he'll work to elect Dems in 2008. It's a win-win.

  • Jason Skelton (unverified)

    Dear Skeptic in SW:

    I wrote the post because I selfishly want Jefferson to be a member of our government. US Senate happens to be the next available position. He is smart and has good values. Obviously he knew I was posting this; it would have been inconsiderate to not let him know.

    And the Bus staff has way more important stuff to do than post comments in hopes of winning a mythic blue oregon pre-primary.

    Skeptics like you told us in 2001 that organizing volunteers to canvass for state legislative races was a terrible idea. Thankfully, we did not listen to you then. I trust our judgment in the future will continue to be as sound.

  • Jefferson Smith (unverified)

    Aah, crap.

    Not this again. If I'm unlucky, there will be a WWeek murmur hitting me about it (a la bogus guv rumor in 2006). Or if I'm really unlucky, there'll be a cover story.

    I've actually urged another person to run...and have a few others I'd urge to run as well....

  • Dan Carol (unverified)

    I think that this discussion about mounting a unified, early challenge to Gordon Smith is very, very, very healthy one to have.

    As someone who worked as the research director on the Packwood special election that put Gordon Smith on the defensive and Ron Wyden in the Senate, it is super important for Democrats, Independents and Republicans of conscience to coalesce early behind a great candidate and a serious grassroots-driven, winning strategy to mount this challenge.

    For those who know me, and those who don’t, I hope I am understood in part to be a long-time evangelist and catalyst for grassroots and netroots power -- and a champion for opening up the process. That said, I will also admit that I am a bit uncomfortable with all of these discussions being played out in public.

    Finding the right forum that blends the best of open debate with the inherent value of not having ALL of our internal airing done in public is an important and dynamic challenge to get right – for this important discussion and for many strategic discussions to come. Finding this public-private strategic blend will also give the bad guys a little less long-term fodder to play with, as some of these verbal smackdowns could end up being good material for the GOP to use in ads (as in, his fellow Democrats even said X about Y and Z).

    OK, enough caveats. As for the race itself, I will say this: I am a huge fan of Jefferson Smith and Steve Novick and Ben Westlund and think their intellect and spirit is welcome anywhere, anytime. I don’t like any of them being referred to as a tier B insurgent candidate, but certainly think that there are top-flight electeds out there who are mulling and who should get the first call. And I gather they all agree. But the clock on that mulling time must be very short, and I think the community at Blue Oregon deserves great, great credit for pushing this conversation ASAP. It needs to be.

    As for the debate over who is the best insurgent, I suspect my voice doesn’t help anyone.

    Oregon politics, to me, often seems like a bike race where anyone who tries to break out and lead gets chased back to the main pack (yes, Tour de France freaks, I know it’s called the peloton or something right?) I also think that folks who are willing to put themselves out there, or whose people put them in play (sometimes without even asking them!) deserve more than pot shots I print when we’re all about the same end result.

    Anyhow, my hope would be for Jeff, Steve, Ben, and whoever else emerges in this discussion to find a room and work it out themselves when the time is right. And that time should be soon.

  • Ben Cannon (unverified)

    Oregonians will be lucky when, and if, Jefferson ever decides to run for public office. He is uncannily smart, seriously funny, and politically savvy. He has dedicated the last five years of his life to building the movement in Oregon, and the Bus has contributed as much as any other organization to redrawing the electoral map of the state. There are countless people in the state -- myself included -- who have become volunteers, advocates, and candidates because of Jefferson's conviction and, frankly, his unselfishness. I hope that he does run for office, and soon.

  • Jason Skelton (unverified)

    I agree. This looks, smells and feels like astroturf to me.<

    This illustrates why I left political stuff and returned to civilian life. So many political types dismiss everything even remotely cool or interesting as a set up of some kind.

    To be clear: Jefferson would have preferred I not post this. He all but asked me not to. But I wanted to do it because he would make a great US senator and the sooner the debate begins the better.

    In the end, if we have Jim Hill, Peter DeFazio, Steve Novick, or Earl Blumenaur as a candidate, we should still be happy.

  • (Show?)

    As someone who knows Jefferson quite well, I just want to mention that this stuff comes up every year - friends suggesting that he should run, others rumoring that he will. At some point, Jeff might run for something. Let's hope so. I actually want him to run for office more than he does. But he is focusing on the job at hand. And it's a harder job than probably anybody can guess.

  • Thomas Anonymous (unverified)

    I don't have a position on the matter, but the idea of Oregonians choosing between Smith (R) and Smith (D) does amuse me.

  • Ben Hubbird (unverified)

    I think the "water cooler" nature of the BlueOregon community can make us perhaps a little near-sighted with regards to the political figures and potential candidates among us.

    Both Steve and Jefferson have been on the national radar for a while now (since 2003, according to the Hotline Futures Market). Either of them would certainly be considered an underdog against Sen. Smith, but given the Democratic registration advantage and the wave of blue we've seen wash over Oregon recently, neither of them should classify as a "long shot," especially since the DSCC seems to have taken an early interest.

    We're Oregonians, after all, we love underdogs.

  • (Show?)

    I agree with Rep. Cannon's comment, "I hope that he (Jefferson) does run for office, and soon."

    Can't say much else.

  • Betsy Wilson (unverified)

    Yes! All we need to do is find someone named Gordon Smith (D)-- or who will change her name to Gordon Smith -- and we'll be sittin' pretty.

    Imagine the ads: "Remember -- I'm Gordon Smith, the Republican" from the guy who tries to deny he's George Bush's lackey. Love it!

    Ok, ok, I know that wouldn't work. But hey, they've had fun with it in Illinois....

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    Yea, they tried that name thing in Texas, and it led to a lawsuit.

    The Rs paid a D with the last name of Brooks to run as Jack Brooks against Nick Lampson. It was back in the 90s when we were trying to unseat Republican Steve Stockman, who had just spent his first term in office. For those who don't know, Jack Brooks was the member of Congress who had served the district for more than 40 years before losing after switching his position on gun control right before the election.

    First the Rs had a minor district boundary change made (after the primary), which meant the general election was once again up for grabs for anyone.

    Then they got the "Jack" Brooks guy to run as well as another African American "democrat" who had run in the primary. They figured between Brooks and the woman that they could split the vote and Lampson would lose.

    Lampson took them to court, and the courts ruled the guy couldn't be on there as Jack Brooks.

    As we all know, Lampson went on to win the 9th District of Texas and held it until DeLay handed the map over to a bunch of kindergarteners.

  • Ian (unverified)

    Skeptic in SW, I'm afraid your anonymous comment is way off base. Jefferson a "self-promoter?" The guy spends more time promoting others than anyone I know.

    Every time I've heard him on the radio he's invited a newly engaged young volunteer. He spends an enormous amount of time training others to speak and get their voice heard (heck, nearly every Bus director has been in the paper – name another nonprofit that has spread the attention that much).

    While Jefferson can shine pretty bright, it's his hard work to help others shine that I respect.

    Now, the ability to mobilize thousands of supporters in 30 seconds, that sounds like an attribute we want in a candidate...

  • (Show?)

    Is anyone who accuses Jason or BlueOregon of astroturfing ready to actually use their real name? Some cojones from those who slander, please.

    As for Jefferson Smith's chances, I think they're long. I think people who understand the Bus Project recognize that the charge that Jefferson "doesn't have the experience" are under-informed. On the other hand, his profile isn't high for a statewide election. Of course, a year before the last Portland mayoral election, no reasonable person would have given Tom Potter any chance of beating the high-profile, well-funded Jim Francesconi.

  • Emily McLain (unverified)

    Articulate, motivating, committed, hard working, smart as all get out, teacher, advocate, funny, personable, talented, capable. All of these words came to my mind over the last few minutes while I read everything above. Those words are just some of the positive characteristics that describe Jefferson Smith.

    Jefferson is the most dedicated advocate of the public interest in Oregon I've ever met. He cares about Oregon. I am confident that Oregon will continue to reresent progressive values because of his work- no matter what that work is. If Jefferson ever runs for office we will all be lucky. Moreover, he will be a strong, committed, and worthy candidate.

    The work that he has done has proven his unselfish investment in the public interest. I know Jefferson is committed to the public interest, not getting elected. He will do what makes Oregon a better place and what helps Oregonians have a better life. Whether that happens through continuing his amazing work with the Bus or in elected office someday Oregon will be the better for it.

    Finally, I believe we should all heed Dan Carol's advice... be careful with this forum. We all want a good candidate against Senator Smith in 2008. We also want to have a great and viable campaign. Lets not hand ammo over to the right just because we have strong ideas about what we think should happen on this side. Be constructive people.

  • Zak J. (unverified)

    Comments on this forum keep waiting for that "big name" in Oregon politics to throw his or her hat in the ring for the '08 Senate race. Problem is, the list of "big names" who might actually run--and have a chance of taking state-wide office--is getting winnowed down.

    That means Steve Novick and Jefferson Smith are as well known and established as anyone who is likely to run. To that list of potential candidates should be added the entire list of contributors to Blue Oregon up in the right-hand corner. Seriously. You've all had a few years of getting your opinions known and honing your arguments. (Unless you comment anonymously.) Why not any of you?

    I'd love to see the Democratic campaign for the Senate in '08 start right now, right here, supplemented with regular candidate forums and debates around the state with the objective of "growing the farm team," as Jill Thorn put it so well the other day. Most of you wouldn't last, but with such a breadth of competition surely one or two or perhaps more of you would find a hidden talent for public speaking and policy debates that could be honed and supported in time for a serious run against Gordon Smith.

    If not you, who? Think about it.

  • Jonathan (unverified)

    John Edwards took a hit because he had spent only two years in elective office. Barack Obama is taking the same hit. And we wouldn't probably be talking about someone to unseat Gordon Smith if Mr. Brugerre had invested some time into holding an elective office before running for the U.S. Senate. I would think Jefferson Smith would be a shoe-in for a handful of offices, and would then be in a great position to run for anything, including the U.S. Senate. Of course, all this assumes that he wants to run, or that his arms could be twisted by the legions who think he's done amazing work with the Bus Project.

  • Leo (unverified)

    Please---we have a serious chance to unseat Smith. Let's not stroke an already over inflated ego with these kinds of posts. Lets spend out time finding a quality candidate.

  • Jake Oken-Berg (unverified)

    Having worked and volunteered with Jefferson almost every week for the last 4 years, I can tell you his focus is 100% on building a volunteer progressive movement to make Oregon and the nation a better place. He'd make a great elected leader someday (sooner rather than later I hope) but his focus is on the Bus Project. Also, let's keep these posts positive... I'm a big fan of all the folks who have been mentioned as possible contenders. We're lucky to live in a state with some incredible progressive voices. It inspires me daily.

  • doug (unverified)

    i am proud to call jefferson a friend. i have volunteered with him and for him and i have seen his passion for this state first hand. when he does decide to run for office, he's got my vote.

  • (Show?)

    Jeff would certainly make an interesting candidate. I think his candidacy would have a lot in common with Steve's. Both are dynamic speakers with long histories of progressive advocacy and very impressive non-elected resumes. They also have the same weakness which is that neither, not the best of my knowledge, has ever been elected to public office. Even this isn't that bad though since the three biggest issues would be lack of name recognition, lack of campaign experience, and a perceived lack of qualifications. The first would be mostly solved simply by winning the Democratic primary. The second isn't much of an issue for these two insiders. That leaves the third, which I believe both could overcome through their numerous good ideas and effective speaking. Also, it could be more than compensated for the perception of being political outsiders. Ironically, these two perceptions that cancel each other out (lack of relevant experience and political "outsider-ness") are both completely and absolutely wrong.

    I think it's interesting that progressives are looking seriously (well, at least not laughing) at two guys who've never been elected to public office. Both would have some serious hurdles to overcome, but I think ultimately would make excellent Senators. And certainly better than the douchebag we have in there now.

    Also, there seems to be a tendency emerging to tear down our potential candidates. I have no idea where this incredibly stupid impulse comes from but I think we should all try to resist it. As someone upthread noted, any one of the potential candidates who've been mentioned would be preferable to G. Smith, as would most of the commenters for that matter. If we can't avoid the insults and innuendo completely, can't we at least save it for our real opponent, the jerk who's in there now?

  • (Show?)

    If he changes his last name to Airplane, I'll vote for him in a heartbeat!

  • Mike Schryver (unverified)

    Jefferson's one of the best speakers I've ever heard, and he's already demonstrated his ability to lead, and his commitment to a better Oregon. If he ever decides to run, he'll have my vote and my support.

  • (Show?)

    My worry about a post like this is the slander that comes into play. Any self-promotion that I have ever seen Jefferson is to raise his profile so can be a more effective advocate for the cause he has championed so hard for. Love him, hate him, or anything in between, the impact that the Bus Project has had on engaging more Oregonians in the political process is second to none. If Jefferson ever decides to run for office, he has my support. You don't have to drink the Kool-Aid to recognize leadership.

  • Greg Nelson (unverified)

    Smith v. Smith does have a nice ring to it. Not quite Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but it is a good start.

    As a long-time fan and supporter of The Bus Project and friend of Jefferson's, I'm excited at the prospect of having a young leader with vision and tremendous organizing energy and capacity running for statewide office. That said, the top priority should certainly be winning the seat. Can Jefferson win? We've got a great tool for finding out -- the primary. Does he want to run? He'll have to decide. What I think is certain is that if Jefferson does run, the result would be a stronger progressive movement in the state and a stronger Dem party organization, from corner to corner. And that's a great outcome.

  • (Show?)

    Two points: (1) "Underdog" is definitely preferable to "insurgent" as an adjective for a nontraditional candidate. (2) If you don't have SOME talent for self-promotion, you ain't gonna beat Gordon Smith! Therefore, I suggest a moratorium on both accusations of, and defensiveness about, the "self-promotion" label ...

  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    b!X for Senate!


    I think it is unfair to attack Jefferson Smith here and I think it is especially unfair to say someone wouldn't spontaneously suggest him. He has a lot of people who admire him. He is a bit of a self-promoter, but as Steve Novick points out, anyone who wants to run for office better be. That Jefferson is good at it just makes him a more attractive potential candidate. But it doesn't make him a US Senate candidate in 2008. He needs a resume that includes something other than partisan political work.

  • (Show?)

    For years now, I've heard grumpie people complain: "Oh, that Jefferson Smith, he just started the Bus Project because he wants to run for office someday."

    I don't have any idea if Jeff ever plans to run. I've tried repeatedly to recruit him for various offices, and he's always declined.

    Jefferson Smith has built a grassroots progressive organization that has motivated hundreds (thousands?) of people to get involved in changing Oregon for the better.

    Personally, I happen to think that's a perfect qualification for running for office. For that matter, if every person who ran for office had to organize a few hundred people to make progressive change.... well, we'd all be a lot better off.

    Founding something like the Bus Project is exactly the kind of thing we should want in our candidates.

  • Big Barton (unverified)

    I will support Jefferson Smith and Steve Novick whenever they run for office. I would prefer not to see them run against each other, but a part of me would love to watch arguably our two most talented politicos go head to head. Both prospective candidates will prove far better campaigners than the negative commentators realize, regardless of their lack of electoral experience. Indeed, I will bet on (and certainly prefer) either Jefferson or Novick versus most elected officials.

    Seriously folks, these guys are good, and nobody, including an incumbent U.S. Senator, can take them lightly without paying a heavy price. I am just glad they are on our team.

  • (Show?)

    Whether or not Jefferson Smith chooses to run for U.S. Senate in 2008, I think he would make a great candidate for this office or any other for which he chooses to run. From what I know of him, Jefferson would have several things going for him that I think are very valuable attributes in a candidate: (1) intelligence and progressive values; (2) work ethic (I don't think he would be outworked by any opponent); and (3) ability to inspire/persuade others (ultimately, politics is very much about persuading people: persuading people in your party to volunteer for your campaign, persuading the public in general of the wisdom of your vision and your policy positions, and persuading people to vote for you; there are lots of very bright people who would be excellent in government service, but are resolutely lacking in persuasive skills).

    As for the six-E platform, in 2008, I suspect it would have to include at least one more E: extricate the U.S. from Iraq.


  • Reality Check (unverified)

    I agree that Jefferson should run for Senate.

    I think he'd be a perfect fit to replace Avel Gordley or Kate Brown or Margaret Carter or Rod Monroe once any of these folks decides to retire.

  • (Show?)

    A wise man once said words to the effect, you have to be the change that you want to create. Jeff and others realized that if we wanted to change Oregon for the better, we needed to become that catalyst for change. Thus the Bus Project was born.

    I was there in '02 when it began and it survived its growth pains through the force of his conviction that it was the right thing to do. His conviction inspired others to participate and support it.

    Now, here's the key point for me. Does that sense of conviction help inspire others to do the same thing? I can't say that about Novick because I don't run in his circles. Maybe he has, I can't say. I haven't heard anyone speak up to that effect yet.

    Has Jeff inspired others? Absolutely. I succesfully ran for my first county Democratic Party office in part because of his encouragement and inspiration. I'm going on my fifth year as an officer in the party. I'm sure that Ben Cannon and Tobias Read successfully ran for the state house in part because of Jeff's influence. And there are others, I'm sure, if not now, in the future.

    Think back. How many people in Oregon are involved in politics because of Wayne Morse, Mark Hatfield, or because of Earl, or because of Ron? Tons! Its because they has a strong sense of conviction and we're able to inspire others because of it.

    Its called becoming the change you want to create.

    I truly feel that people that accuse him of a self-serving interest are, in fact, simply jealous that they don't have that sense of conviction themselves. You gain confidence when you have conviction. Steve Novick has it. Jeff Smith has it. And in my book, that sense of conviction is what I want in an elected official.

  • (Show?)

    I also like Jeff, for all the above-stated reasons. I'd vote and work for him. I don't know if he's going to run or would win the primary, but I'd sure like to see someone throw their hat in sooner rather than later. After all, I'm not sure the "big names" are all that big in this state anyway.

  • CBurr (unverified)

    Jefferson's one of the best organizers around; Steve's one of the most talented and brilliant strategists and policy analysts I've ever had the pleasure of working with. And they both care a lot more about the greater good than their own personal, political ambitions. It's hard to imagine they'd end up facing off in a primary, or that either would run if one of our state Legislators or Congressional delegation members stepped forward.

    In 2004, I ran a statewide ballot measure against an anti-patient initiative that would have limited patient rights. Steve argued the ballot measure language for us; we wouldn't have won without him. And the race came down to turnout in Multnomah County -- where the bus project was instrumental to our field effort (and helped deliver more than 30K young voter-targetted pieces). I've been involved with Politicorp ever since; each year I'm amazed at the talent of the young organizers that cut their teeth in this program.

    I'd like to see both these guys in office, but both Steve and Jefferson prove that you don't have to have your name on a ballot to make a difference.

  • Big Barton (unverified)

    Very well said, Charlie.

  • pedro (unverified)

    how apropos, the dscc has started an ad campaign to hold republicans accountable on the iraq war, and gordon smith is one of their prime targets (warning pdf).

    you can donate to the campaign here.

    apparently the dscc thinks smith is beatable.

  • Sara (unverified)

    If Jefferson ever runs for office one thing's for sure, he'll have a lot of help on his campaign. My daughter starting volunteering with the Bus Project two years ago and I watched her go from a shy 16 year old to an confident 18 year old who came home from a Bus Project event telling me how she'd met so many new friends. Once she even met the Governor. Now she's getting ready for college and wants to study political science. This is a girl who wasn't interested in politics at all and now it's what she wants to do with her life. Jefferson has made such an impact in so many young lives and to read these comments that say he's "self promoting" doesn't do any of them any good. I hope he runs for office. If he waits a couple of years the teenagers whose lives he's touched will be able to vote for him. I know their parents will.

  • Harry (unverified)

    Kari for President in 2012, but first Kari for US Senate in 08.

    You and Vice President Obama can run to replace Hillary, after she steps aside after one term due to another Clintonian bimbo eruption. Hey, stranger things have happened...

  • (Show?)


    There truly are scores of teenagers, myself included, whose lives Jefferson touched. And now (finally) I can vote!

  • Rahna Epting (unverified)

    Not to beat a dead horse, but I will say that Jefferson is one of the most inspiring, persistent visionaries I know. Come on, say it with me ... "redesign the mechanisms by which we govern ourselves"... I know you want to say it.

  • john mccalpine (unverified)

    Aah, crap.

    Not this again. If I'm unlucky, there will be a WWeek murmur hitting me about it (a la bogus guv rumor in 2006). Or if I'm really unlucky, there'll be a cover story.

    I've actually urged another person to run...and have a few others I'd urge to run as well....

    I agree with Jefferson, he should sit this one out.

  • (Show?)

    Kari for President in 2012, but first Kari for US Senate in 08.

    Take your meds, please.

  • FEC violation (unverified)

    Well all kudos to Jefferson aside, the single major issue standing in his way is thatthe Bus Project does not get involved in Federal races (for philosophical reasons and for practical reasons like McCain Feingold) So the legions of volunteers (and there are legions) would either have to abandon the Bus or do double time to both volunteer for Jefferson and maintain a progressive slate in Oregon- plus god knows how many ballot measures.

    It would be a major FEC violation to use the Bus for a US Senate race. I am pretty darn confident that Jefferson would not preside over the dismantling of his own organization so that he could run for US Senate. He belongs in Oregon and he belongs to Oregon. I'd support him running for a state house or senate seat in a minute and I am really surprised he keeps turning down the offers. The man has integrity and won't abandon the ship to satisfy those who wish to propel him forward. He's already shown that by dropping 2 lucrative law gigs (one in NY,one in Portland). Personally I wish I had his self control.

    The Bus is still growing. And as it pushes on towards the 2008 election I hope to see Jefferson solidly at the helm. Thats not to say the organization can't survive without him, because he(and others) have kept the bench filled with new talent, but I'd wager things are too exciting at Bus Central to even think about the monotony of running a US Senate campaign.

    The Bus has been doggedly focused on involving youth, moving a progressive agenda, and electing progressives to the State house and Senate. They don't even do Governor or Sec of State races. Its a formula that works.

    I'd advise Jefferson to stick to the gameplan.Besides, who wants to have to share a cloakroom with old man Byrd, John Kerry, and Trent Lott when you have Ben Westlund, Kate Brown, Floyd Prozanski, and Peter Buckley right here? No contest.

  • Ian (unverified)

    Is it me, or are a vast majority of the negative comments on this post coming from anonymous sources?

  • Ben Matasar (unverified)

    As someone who's been involved with the Bus Project for several years, I have come to believe that building a movement in Oregon is Jeff's top priority, and he makes decisions based on what he believes will help do that. I did not initially believe this, but as people keep urging him to run for office and he keeps declining, I don't see from where the negativity comes.

    For the people who (incorrectly) believe he's only building the Bus Project as a tool to raise his profile, how bad would that even be? The Bus is doing a lot of good, and I wish everybody who planned to seek office spent their time building a movement like the Bus.

    I believe he'll run for something someday, and I hope it's soon.


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    Jeff knows when the day comes that he does run for office (or even thinks about running for office and wants to hear from his potential constituents), I'll be right there alongside him knocking on doors.

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    Anonymous Poster FEC Violation said,

    Well all kudos to Jefferson aside, the single major issue standing in his way is that the Bus Project does not get involved in Federal races (for philosophical reasons and for practical reasons like McCain Feingold) So the legions of volunteers (and there are legions) would either have to abandon the Bus or do double time to both volunteer for Jefferson and maintain a progressive slate in Oregon- plus god knows how many ballot measures.

    It would be a major FEC violation to use the Bus for a US Senate race. I am pretty darn confident that Jefferson would not preside over the dismantling of his own organization so that he could run for US Senate. He belongs in Oregon and he belongs to Oregon. I'd support him running for a state house or senate seat in a minute and I am really surprised he keeps turning down the offers.

    I can't speak for him on these matters, but, if he were running for a federal office, I really think Jefferson Smith would be smart enough to steer clear of any gray areas when it comes to campaign finance regulations. It wouldn't surprise me if, for example, he stepped down from his stewardship of The Bus while running for office, precisely because he would not want to do anything that jeopardized the organization he has given years of his life to building. Moreover, I don't think Jefferson Smith would "use" The Bus in running for office, in the sense of directing the use of its energies toward his own campaign. I say that because, in all honesty, I don't think it would be necessary. If Jefferson Smith were running for office, I really think legions of volunteers would show up to work for him, regardless of whether or not The Bus wanted people to show up to work for him. I know I would.


  • RD (unverified)

    I want Jefferson to run against Gordon Smith.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    Reality check- with a few exceptions like Wellstone and Morse, most U.S. Senate candidiates have held a high profile office like U.S. House, legislative leadership, or Governor first. Even Packwood was a state rep when he beat Morse. People like Jefferson and Steve could be very credible senate candidates... after they get elected to some other office first. Those who don't have the name ID can buy it for $5 million to $10 million (in Oregon, much more in state like CA). Sound cynical, but it's true.

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    Who has the best judgment about whether it's a good idea for Jefferson Smith to run? I can't think of anyone better up to that task than…Jefferson Smith. There aren't many people I'd say that about.

    As has been said before, the moment Jefferson decides what he's running for, he'll have armies of volunteers to make it happen. I'll be among them. As to whether or not we will organize within the structure of the Bus Project…can anyone say "red herring?"

    redesign the mechanisms by which we govern ourselves - you're right Rahna, that did feel good!

  • Saul (unverified)

    Whatever Jefferson decides to do – I'll support!! (although I'm definitely ready to see him run for something)

  • Steiny (unverified)

    I wish Jefferson would move across the river and run against Fake Democrat David Wu...

  • Ron Buel (unverified)

    I have watched the Bus Project and Jefferson Smith from up close over the past six years. Jefferson is truly remarkable --he is inspiring, charismatic and dedicated to the public interest. What better qualifications are there for public office than a proven ability to engage others in our democracy. What a tough choice he faces -- walk away from the Bus Project to run against Gordon Smith. I do not expect him to leave the Bus to run at this time. But he would clearly be my number one choice for U.S. Senate were he to do so, and I've seen a lot of politicians come and go over the last 38 years of my involvement in Portland and Oregon. I could support Ben Westlund in a heartbeat, too, or Earl Blumenauer were he to run, but I am not a big Novick fan. I see Novick as brilliant, but an attacker, a critic, and a game player first and foremost. Politics is already too adversarial in this state, especially at the primary level. I would contrast Novick with Jefferson Smith, who has built an organization from the ground up that is designed to help others in positive ways.

  • James Frye (unverified)

    Hey, Jefferson Smith for Senate ain't a bad idea at all. I'm not that familiar with him but I have met him and heard him speak (in Salem). I asked him then when I'd have a chance to vote for him then, and an '08 US Senate run would do the job nicely. Now someone prepare to reduce Jeff's head when he reads this, but one thing the guy has got is CHARISMA. Oregon Democrat that could inspire some passion and could really get the base to the polls...imagine the possiblities...

    Oh, and for those who might think this is astroturfing, let me remind you again that I'm in SALEM - not Portland - and just a little while back I was pushing Jim Hill for Senator.

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    Jefferson Smith was, and still is, a superior leader with his heart in the right place and such a massive set of qualities, including his progressive beliefs, that any Democrat worth his or her salt would do extremely well to emulate them.

    Get used to his face, and to his voice, because if there's a merciful God in the world, he'll be President of the United States someday, hopefully sooner rather than later.

    And Jefferson himself knows, if no one else does, that I'm not just some gushing sycophant of the Bus Project clique when I say that. We've had our differences, and we've battled them out. But I still, and will always, admire and respect the hell out of Jefferson Smith.

    So I'll say he's not ready to be the junior US Senator from Oregon, and put my name on it. But I wish he would get started leading something, soon. Multnomah County Commission, perhaps? Metro?

    Sure, he's better suited to office than Gordon, and the Senate would be a better place with him among them than with Gordon. But so are my cats, me, my Mom, you, and every progressive on this blog.

    And none of you, I guarantee it, wanted that bastard out as bad as I did, as early as I did. I invented hating Gordon Smith, just like I invented revoking Sports Action lottery so you could get your Tournament back in 2009, and the sooner you accept it, the better.

    (No, really: don't thank me. But I will not decline any offers of hefeweizen.)

    My name is John Dunagan, I also don't think Jefferson Smith should run for US Senate, and I approve this post.

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    For the record, I'm not a big Ron Buel fan either. I'm not surprised to see him attacking me, although I am a bit shocked to hear myself described as a 'game player,' since I think I'm generally regaded (justly, I hope) as a guy who doesn't play games but rather says what he thinks. But I think that's Ron's real problem with me - I have occasionally criticized some of his ideas. I see Ron as, first and foremost, a guy who can't stand anyone who doesn't immediately embrace whatever idea he is advocating at the moment. And I would ask Ron to ask Cliff Trow, Kate Brown, Ginny Burdick, Randy Leonard, Joan Dukes, Susan Castillo, Avel Gordly, and Bill Dwyer if I didn't offer constructive help to the Senate Democrats in 1997 as they built themselves into a formidable force that session and in the subsequent election cycle. Oh, and he could also ask Sue Hildick of the Chalkboard Project if I didn't help that nonpartisan organization build a valuable tool (the 'Open Books Project') for taxpayers to see how school districts spend money. Yes, I've spent a lot of my time fighting Bill Sizemore and Don McIntire, if that's what Buel means in calling me "adversarial." Well, someone had to do that. I think Jefferson, Westlund, and Earl all appreciate that - as I appreciate them.

  • CBurr (unverified)

    Ron, calling Novick an "attacker" is, itself, an attack. Any challenger to Smith will have to draw a contrast, and while there's been a lot of discussion here about potential challengers, a winning campaign will largely be a referendum on the incumbent. I don't think that's "adversarial politics" so much as making the case why candidate X will best deliver on issues Oregonians care about.

    Nobody's even in yet -- I don't see taking shots at potential challengers as productive. Same's true with Jefferson, who I think's a very talented guy who's unlikely to run for US Senate in 2008.

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