HD47: Jefferson Smith is in.

Jeffersonsmith_2Jefferson Smith, the founder of the Bus Project, is running for State Representative in House District 47. The district includes a big chunk of the outer east side of Portland (map). The seat is presently held by Rep. Jeff Merkley.

I am honored to be running for the Oregon State House to represent District 47. With strong community focus and a lot of hard work, we can make some real change: ever-better schools, improved health care, a stronger and fairer economy, broader home ownership and a system that works better for people.

Donate via ActBlue. Visit JeffersonSmith.com for more.


  • Big Barton (unverified)

    It's about time he ran. It would not surprise me to see him wielding the Speaker's gavel in a few years.

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    Nice Picture.

    Jeff is one of my best friends and he will be a fantastic legislator. I know him better than most and help start the Bus Project. I’m honored to support him. We are lucky to have him run.

    Before someone asks: Jefferson does, in fact, know that replacing Jeff Merkley does not automatically make him the Speaker. Otherwise he would have run against Minis years ago.

    Joe Baessler

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    Congratulations, Jeff.

    Oregon is lucky to have such a smart, compassionate person running for public office. Jefferson represents the ideals people are looking for today in a state rep: honest, sharp, caring, and ready to go the mat for Oregon citizens.

    Let's all get out there and do everything we can to help him change our little corner of the world!

  • Rahna (unverified)

    This is very exciting! Jefferson is going to be a great State Rep. He is a forward thinker that will shake up the Oregon legislature and bring new, innovative and intelligent ideas to the people. I am thrilled! It's about time.

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    More young, engaged liberals running for office. Is a golden era in Salem long away? And the more Jeffs the merrier, as far as I'm concerned!

  • shannon greenfield (unverified)

    Jefferson is a fresh breath of air, and I'm excited that he's taking the innovative, inclusive approach that he developed at the Bus Project to District 47.

    He is sincerely skilled at getting people involved in the political process, and this and many other districts in the state could benefit from someone who brings energy and enthusiasm to local government. He'd have my vote!

  • Galen (unverified)

    This is great news. I have immense respect and admiration for Jeff, and he will be a superb legislator for District 47.

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    I'm Katy,I'm engaged to Jeff. I grew up in the district. It's an area that really needs strong representation.

    My elementary school, Lincoln Park, how has 99-100% of its students on free or reduced lunch. The David Douglas school distict as a whole has 70% of its students on free or reduced price lunch.

    There is no one I'd rather have representing my neighborhood than Jeff.Over the last weeks, as he's been listening to local leaders, he's really come alive and I see how excited people are getting.

    A guy at the Glenfair Neighborhood Association said just last week "You're just what this district's been waiting for," and I couldn't agree more.

  • Andrew Hall (unverified)

    Those of you who have not met Jefferson or heard him speak are in for a pleasant surprise. He's a smart guy and an inspiring speaker, and he will know how to move people to action in Salem. I look forward to his campaign.

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    He's a great guy and he'll be a great legislator.

  • James Mattiace (unverified)

    It is truly going to be one heck of session in 2009. I was excited to see the work the 5 under 35 (C. Edwards, D. Edwards, Reed, Gelser, Clem) did this past session. Adding in Jefferson Smith's voice to speak passionately and eloquently about issues facing younger (and older) Oregonians is fantastic.

    Jeff is a guy who "gets it" and I can't imagine a more solid individual to be a citizen legislator.

    I think a new afternoon is approaching and the basic premise of the Bus (people power vs money power) has a chance to make Oregon an even greater state. (hat tip to all the other groups that have been pounding away at that for years ie. Ghandi; whose birthday is tomorrow)

    From Morocco, this is James Mattiace. Back to you Kari.

    NB: I was not comparing Jeff to Ghandi, just recognizing that the Bus is nothing new in terms of mobilizing people and it happened to be his (Ghandi's) birthday tomorrow.

    NB: Not that you need to celebrate Ghandi's birthday or anything, just served as a useful allegory. In fact I didn't even know about the birthday until my friend Carol Van Houten from CALC (Eugene) emailed about the celebration.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)

    I can't imagine anyone better for the job.

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    and he'll make the fastest campaign speeches in the state.

    this is great news. we're losing a great Speaker, but Jefferson will be a fabulous member of a strong House (under Speaker Sara Gelser...).

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    Jeff has an amazing way asking "why do we have to do it that way" and then proceeding to throw away the box for some new and better idea. We need that kind of thinking in Salem.

    Seriously floor speeches are going to way more fun next session.

  • Jake Oliver (unverified)


  • Zoe Walmer (unverified)

    I've known Jeff for almost 4 years and he has always worked tirelessly to engage new people in politics. I know that as a Rep he'll keep fighting for what's right and listening to the voices of everyone in the district.

    Jeff's passion, brilliance, and committment will be great assets to him throughout his campaign and term of office, but history will remember him as Oregon's only Rep who could speak to his entire district at once with his unamplified voice.

    PS--I heard Chuck Norris wanted to run for this seat, but backed down when he found out Jeff would be his opponent.

  • Ben Matasar (unverified)

    I've known Jeff through the Bus Project for going on five years, and I think if everyone in politics was as good as Jefferson we'd be in much better shape.

    My check is in the mail, and I look forward to walking for Jeff this season.


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    Boy, I wonder how many more of my friends are going to be running for office next year.

    We're all going to be too busy on our own campaigns to help each other. ; )


    Planning any snow day canvasses? ; p

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    I'm glad to see Jeff jump into this race. I've worked with him for the last two years as a member of the Bus Project Foundation board and have been consistently impressed by his leadership and his ability to inspire political change. Jeff will run a great grassroots campaign and do a terrific job representing House District 47 in Salem!

  • charlie (unverified)

    When does the door knocking begin? Count me in.

  • Duke Shepard (unverified)

    Jefferson will be a great voice for us in east Portland and east Multnomah county and I'll be pleased to vote for him. He's got a tough act to follow, but he's the right person for the job. I want a legislator with ideas, energy, and a work ethic, and Jefferson sure fits the bill.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    With the low pay and irregular schedule of a state legislator, it's amazing that anyone would run, especially anyone with talent who could be successful in so many areas. Fortunately, many good folks do step up, as we saw with the class of '06. Jeff is a great start for the class of '08.

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    I wouldn't say Jeff is a good start for 2008. I'd say he's continuing with the trend, as we already have some great candidates who announced some time ago.

    Cyreena Boston, for example, announced weeks ago and has been knocking on doors for some time now. I've known Cyreena for more than a year and a half, and worked with her at the Donkey Stable last year. She's a great candidate and I look forward to seeing her down in Salem.

    Disclaimer: I've been working on the Friends of Cyreena Boston web site, but I only speak for myself.

  • Portland Dem (unverified)

    I've know Jeff since before he was born and he was an amazing zygote!

  • Albert (unverified)

    I'm a big Jefferson fan - have been since I met him. I think he'll make a good governor at some point - or really, whatever he wants to take on :) Go Jeff!

  • Zygotes for Smith (unverified)

    "He was an amazing Zygote."


    That's gotta be on the lit.

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    I'm glad to see Jeff jump into this race. I've worked with him for the last two years as a member of the Bus Project Foundation board and have been consistently impressed by his leadership and his ability to inspire political change. Jeff will run a great grassroots campaign and do a terrific job representing House District 47 in Salem!

  • Emily Matasar (unverified)

    I respect Jefferson as a politician and as a friend, and am eager to help him in his campaign.

  • Helena Huang (unverified)

    As a recent transplant from the east coast and new Bus board member, I can tell you Jefferson and his work with the Bus Project are not only respected here in Oregon, but around the country as well. And for good reason: Jefferson is a big picture thinker who embodies the saying, "Think globally, act locally".

    I have no doubt, he will represent district 47 well.

    Helena Huang

  • qer (unverified)

    hate to break up the Bus Project backslapping, but Jeff isn't even registered to vote in District 47. What's his connection to the area?

  • gold (unverified)

    Wait, let’s get serious here. Do you know who we are talking about? Jefferson Smith- the creator and leader of a fluff organization that feels so good but really isn't effective. Jefferson Smith- the carpet bagger. Jefferson Smith- they guy with cheese residue clinging to his hip sports coat. Jefferson Smith- product of having just too damn many undeserved opportunities. Please, let’s not go overboard on the Jefferson Smith bandwagon. Actually, knowing the greasy muck that rises to the top of Jefferson's brain, I bet he organized his flunkies to reply positively to this post. Jeff is okay, sort of, but how about a little critical thinking.

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    He's buying a house there, qer. I'm sure his reg will catch up soon.

    I certainly echo the kudos and excitement--I just wish he hadn't pretty much fibbed his ass off to my face, telling me there was almost no chance he'd run. :)

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    "Jefferson Smith- the creator and leader of a fluff organization that feels so good but really isn't effective."

    Come again? Are we talking about the Bus Project here?

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    Bus Project a fluff organization and not effective? Is that a joke?

    I've done volunteering and work with the Bus Project since 2002 when I made phone calls and did computer work for them (I'd had a bad pregnancy and c-section at the time and was pretty much home bound much of the year). Since then I've been on numerous canvasses, helped at events, served on (and been a co-chair of) committees, and more.

    I've been able to watch the organization as it grows and the amount of work the Bus Project is able to do increases. I'd say they've been quite effective.

    They've gotten a lot of people involved in politics who might not have normally, including a lot of young people.

    They've knocked on tens of thousands of doors (I'm pretty certain it's over 100,000, but I don't know the current number). Knocking on doors and talking to voters is hugely effective in winning elections. There's few things more effective in getting someone to vote for your candidate than having a volunteer canvasser at their door.

    They've trained dozens of college students from around the country in politics and campaigning.

    They've registered thousands of voters through their Building Votes program.

    The Bus Project is very effective, and I can't wait for the day when we can have something like it in more states.

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    Posted by: gold | Oct 1, 2007 3:49:44 PM Jefferson Smith- the creator and leader of a fluff organization that feels so good but really isn't effective.

    Bwhahahhahhaaa.. oh wait... you were serious there?


  • LT (unverified)

    In 2002, the Bus Project had something like a 50% victory record--as I recall they backed 14 candidates, won 7 and another lost by a very small margin and won the next time around. The State Senate went from R majority to 15-15 in 2002 and one senator told me the Bus Project was a major factor in his election.

    That is "fluff"? Seems to me the BUS may be more open and more worthwhile than FP. They probably got more young people involved in politics. I have been on some of their local canvasses. Maybe gold is a troll or someone backing a candidate born and raised in HD 47?

  • Ian Greenfield (unverified)

    County Elections says Jefferson is a registered voter in District 47.

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    I'm a longtime fan of Jeff's work.

    He's got my volunteer support and, as of a couple of clicks ago on ActBlue, he's got my money.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    Yes, Jeff has his critics who say that he has a big ego, a big mouth and is ultra ambitious, but those are common "criticisms" (In politics those could be called strengths) of candidates. I suppose that JFK, Gore, Gephardt, Biden were ridiculed by many as brash upstarts for running for congress at age 29.

    The fact is that Jeff has been dedicated to the OR Bus project since he helped found it in '01 I was at the first meeting at a NW pub and it was clear that Jeff would was the chosen spokesperson. Had he then run for office in '02, you could probably have argued that he was only using it as a springboard, but that was/is clearly not the case. He is running for state rep., not for Governor or Congress as many predicted (not that there would be anything working with that). I would add that the OBP has been effective because Jeff knows had to step behind the scenes and let others step up and use their talents to help make it work.

    In response to "Gold's" comment that Jeff "organized his flunkies to reply positively to this post", I've probably only talked to Jeff five times since meeting him in '01 and none in the past year. I simply recognize good candidates when I see one, and think it is important to support those people.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    Correction on my last post, end of 2nd paragraph. I meant, "Jeff knows how to step behind the scenes" not had.

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    The Bus has won 9 out of 10 State Senate races in 04, which resulted in a progressive led OR Senate for the first time in over a decade (after having acheived the power-sharing 15-15 tie in 02).

    They followed up that success by winning back the OR House in 06.

    Jefferson was also instrumental in helping win back the WA Senate in 04, making Washington a trifecta state when it came to implementing their progressive agenda.

    That doesn't even cover the work they've done via Politicorps, Building Votes, Trick or Vote, Bus Project Presents, Days for Democracy, or their work on ballot measures.

    The mass canvass model Jefferson put into action has been used around the country to great results.

    BTW, the reason so many Bus Project volunteers are commenting on this blog post is because of the type of person Jeff is and the type of example he's set for young people, esp those new to politics.

    If he has a strong following it is because he's been an effective leader - albeit one that does not take himself too seriously.

    But most of all, he is also an all-around nice guy, who always sees the best in others...

    Besides, who couldn't like a guy who is willing to carry a doll on a rope (ie, the child that got left behind) to make a point about education?

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    Anyone who has spent any time with Jeff understands that he has dedicated his life to helping to change the direction of Oregon for the better.

    This guy could be charging $300 an hour or more at a law practice instead of doing what he's doing, which is running an organization that is dedicated not only to positive social reforms, but to getting students engaged in the political process and helping to groom the leaders of tomorrow.

    There are a handful of people on this earth with whom I'd march into the gates of Hell. Jeff Smith is one of them.

    Oh yeah, please don't feed the trolls.

  • qer (unverified)

    torridjoe: "He's buying a house there, qer. I'm sure his reg will catch up soon."

    Wish he'd say that. Portland is strange in that this isn't that weird-- to move a few blocks down the street into a district and in a matter of a few short years represent it. I'm not sure if this is good or bad, that's a subject for a different discussion that's probably already been had somewhere on this blog.

    I'll tell my friends out there to vote for him if he's contested, and I'm sure a canvasser or two will also be knocking on their doors.

  • ne_pdx (unverified)

    Not to diminish the Bus's work, but claiming that they "won" a certain number of seats isn't a realistic claim. It'd be like Planned Parenthood or the NRA claiming they won seats for their respective side.

    And I think it is fair to question how Jefferson will represent the district, because that will be his job if elected, and frankly I don't see any connection other than it's an open seat. Being somebody raised and living in NE Portland, you can't just plop yourself in here, be a Democrat/progressive/whatever and automatically be in touch with the community and its needs.

  • Nick Klonoski (unverified)

    Jeff is one of the most outstanding leaders this state has seen in a long time. I am so glad that he is going to try to take his abilities and outside-the-box thinking to the state legislature. He is going to shake things up in a great way. The best is yet to come from this man...just you wait and see. My dad was Jefferson's college professor at Oregon, and has always said that he is one of the best and brightest people he ever had the good fortune to teach. Good luck Jefferson...we're with you cause your with us!

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    Yeah Jeff!! Very exciting!

    p.s. I just read about this for the first time here on BlueOregon. And much as Jeff might hate to hear it, I don't do stuff just because he tells me to…and I don't think any of the people I call friends who posted above do, either.

    If Jeff needs his friends' support, I'm sure he'll find a more meaningful and productive way to enlist it than to have us post on a blog. He always does.

    You've got my number, Jeff.

  • verasoie (unverified)

    Can't wait to canvass for Jeff, he'll be an inspiration to many as a legislator and help inaugurate a progressive wave in Oregon.

    Go Jefferson!

  • Ron Buel (unverified)

    Jefferson Smith is a true leader.

    With a group of his friends, Jefferson created an institution that has engaged thousands of people in Oregon politics -- for the first time. The Oregon Bus Project is, far and away, my favorite political organization, and I am proud to serve it on the Bus Project PAC Board.

    I have been watching Portland and Oregon politics closely for 38 years now. Jefferson has as much potential and promise as anyone I have seen, including the dishonored Neil Goldschmidt who I worked for, and the current Democratic U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, who I helped to defeat Bob Duncan for Congress in 1980. In Salem in 2009, Jefferson will join at least half a dozen other members of his generation who he has encouraged and helped to win office. It is truly a talented group -- from Ben Cannon to Tobias Read, to Chris Edwards to Sara Gelser, and beyond. There are more coming, too.

    It is not fair or right to say that the Bus by itself won the 18 out of 20 House and Senate seats it worked on in the last two election cycles. In Oregon, unfortunately, money still talks, and the Bus Project gives no money. What it gives instead is much more valuable in terms of making democracy really work -- grass roots volunteers who knock on doors and listen and talk to voters. Without Jefferson, there is no Bus. Maybe the Dems would still be in control of both Houses, but count me as a close observer who doesn't think so.

    I encouraged Jefferson to run for the U.S. Senate before Jeff Merkley got in that race. Jefferson said he has spent all of this time and effort working for legislative candidates and that Salem is where his heart is. He is so smart and quick and honest, I am confident he will be a great legislator. And, someday maybe, a great Governor.

  • Danielle Valentino (unverified)

    Wonderful news that Jeff is running!!

    No doubt that he will have a tremendously positive influence in the Oregon state legislature.

    Jeff is one of the most inspiring, intelligent, articulate, and genuine people I know. I think that there are many people from CA and beyond that wish they could cast their vote too!

    Best of luck to Jeff and his campaign team--- Oregon is very lucky to have you!

  • Anonymous (unverified)

    Anyone else hear the rumor that someone else is going to be running for that district? Someone with street cred of his own?

    Could be a good race...I know a lot of people that (unofficially) don't like Jefferson much. It'll be good to see him face some real competition.

  • Ryan D Christensen (unverified)

    It's about time he runs, Jefferson will do a great job. Since I've met Jefferson 5 years ago he's always done everything in his power to improve and bring awareness to Oregon Politics.

    Jefferson is a "Gem" for Oregon Politics he has the confidence to shake a stick to any conservative that is poision from the dark side and the charisma to educate young adults about politics in general.

    I'm stoked to be in the company of such a wonderful Oregon figure.

    Shake and Bake Jeff, Shake and Bake

  • Brian Wagner (unverified)

    Simply put, it's about time.

  • Mari Anne (unverified)

    He rocked the vote and now he will rock the House. Congratulations Jeff.

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    Not to diminish the Bus's work, but claiming that they "won" a certain number of seats isn't a realistic claim.

    The Bus won races. Period.

    Jeff brought a couple of carloads out to help phone bank in my race and did more in 3 hours than our group of dedicated folks accomplished in a week. Then he followed it up by bringing another carload out a couple of days later to wave my yard signs on the 99w in a rainstorm at 6:30 am.

    I've never seen someone work harder than that guy and the people he surrounds himself with.

    As to this piffle about Jeff not understanding the district... dude has probably knocked on 20,000 doors over the last 3 cycles. I'm sure he'll knock on another 10,000 in this cycle.

    Nobody knows voters in this state better than Jeff.

  • jennifer yocom (unverified)

    Congratulations Jeff-- Looking forward to seeing you lead at the State level.

    (And Ryan-did you actually just quote Ricky Bobby?)

    Going to give my contribution right now... -J

  • Anneke Gronke (unverified)

    Glad to see it finally happening.

    Jeff is the most amazing speaker I've ever seen, he has great, innovative ideas that would be great for Oregon, and I absolutely agree with Bdunn....floor speeches are going to be WAY more fun this year.

    Good luck, Jefferson. Give 'em hell!

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    Jeff's a good guy who'll do a great job for the district. He'll also be a terrific addition to the caucus, and his ability to organize folks will only help grow our majority. Good luck, Jeff!

  • Annette Mattson (unverified)

    Outer east Portland needs strong representation. We are a proud community with many challenges. We are not a liberal community despite the D registration advantage - just a challenged, working class community that has been let down by almost every elected leader that came along and made promises. We have been a politically disengaged community, for the most part. Jeff Merkley was the first to break the trend of broken promises. I believe that Jefferson Smith will also keep his word, have an open door and an open mind, and work hard for his constituents.

  • Leah (unverified)

    This is so exciting! For the people of District 47, their future State Representative is going to be a familiar face. He'll connect with empower them the way he's done with so many through the Bus Project. Go Jefferson! Go Democracy!

  • Zygotes for Smith (unverified)

    Anonymous: Seems like in that district, trying to drum up another progressive candidate would be major dumbness. Lonnie Roberts represents this district. Ron McCarty thumped Lisa Naito there. Mike Schaufler represents just to the South. The best way to elect an anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-public-services Dem (not saying the previous names are those things) would be to put a strong progressive against Jefferson and split the vote. Head to head against a conservative D, Smith'll almost certainly win (on issues). Head-to-head against a progressive D, Smith'll almost certainly win (more organization, etc.). But if that progressive gets in now, it gives a righty D an opening (even though the progressive D would just be signing up to come in third). And that'd be DUMB. Anyway, sorry to be about the horse race. But I can read the numbers, and I know a self-defeating strategy when I hear one.

  • Christy Splitt (unverified)

    Mr. Smith Goes to Salem. I like it. I have worked with Jeff in various capacities over the past 4 years. I can verify all of the good things that have been said here: the diligence, the intelligence, the charisma and presence. I look forward to continuing to work with him in Salem and to seeing what his passion will bring to state government.

  • Rose Wilde (unverified)

    I met Jefferson after getting "on the Bus" in Lane County last year. When Mattiace abandoned us for the brighter shores of Morocco, I got my chance to be a volunteer leader. Jefferson consistently goes over and above what anyone could expect from such a busy guy to give me kind and SMART advice. He spent 45 minutes with me just the other day to help me figure out this new world of politics AND to affirm my value as a volunteer and leader.

    With all this praise, it is easy to let it go to your head. But Jeff knows that all his power is really that of those people who choose to channel it toward aims he helps us discover through the Bus. He has never once told me what to do or how to think. The scary thing about excellence is how our culture makes us think we have to keep it to ourselves. What Jeff and the Bus show us is that we can all be effective and powerful.

    I'd like to see this much excitement about 10 more candidates in Oregon. James is right -- Jeff isn't doing anything new -- he's found a very effective way to foster voluteerism, creativity, and self-efficacy. So, how many other unsung heroes are out there?

    I'll be back to call out a few once they've announced.

  • Lennon (unverified)

    Quoting Ron Buel: Without Jefferson, there is no Bus.

    Can we put a little past-tense on that, Ron? Granted, without Jefferson's leadership, the Bus likely never would have gotten its start, but the organization is a lot bigger than his cult of personality now.

  • David DG (unverified)

    At long last, the other shoe drops :)

  • Zoe Walmer (unverified)

    To anyone questioning the effectiveness of the Bus Project or Jeff's ability to inspire, I am living proof of both. When I first stepped into the Bus office I was 13 and knew nothing about politics, I'm still not even entirely sure how I wound up there. It's Jeff (and the rest of the Bus crew) who immediately took me in and taught me (and continue to teach me) all that they knew that have turned me into a poltical junkie. It's because of the Bus that I'm dedicating my life to politics. I'm not the only one, the Bus has similarly changed the lives of (at least) dozens of others that I know.

    The Bus drives positive change. I know Jeff will continue to do so from Salem.

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    I seem to remember being on the bus when you did your first bus trip. Was it the one to Lincoln City to canvass for Verger and Cowan?

  • Jessica (unverified)

    I read Ron's comment in the past tense. True, the Bus would not have started without Jeff, but it's so much more than that now. Indeed, the mark of a leader should be to create something that lives past the leader. This is also a good opportunity for the Bus, as ever more leaders come forward as the Bus continues to grow. And this will be a good test for those other leaders.

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    I want to second Lennon's comment from above.

    If you stop by the Bus office these days, you're likely to find Jeff stressing out in his office about how to lead a rising progressive electorate to its next success.

    You'll also find at least 4 or 5 other people…stressing out about how to lead a rising progressive electorate to its next success.

    If you go to a Bus event, or listen to a radio show or TV show where they're featured, you'll find any number of people willing to share articulate and charismatic perspectives on what's going on and where we need to go.

    This all speaks well of Jeff's dedication to developing a new generation of activists and leaders. In a certain sense, I firmly believe that we won't know exactly how successful Jeff has been until he moves on; and this may be that moment.

    We won't know, but that won't stop me from placing bets. Any takers?

  • TOG (unverified)

    Because I'm blessed, or cursed, or maybe both (depending on your point of view) with a unique vantage point from which to observe both The Bus Project, and JDES (what I call him, standing for Jefferson Daniel Edward Smith,the name his mother and I afflicted him with 34 years ago) two things: First, no-one in The Bus Project believes we "elected" anyone. By far the most important ingredient in the election of the candidates we supported was the quality and energy of the candidates. Second in importance was the dedication and effort of their local supporters. After that came many ingredients, some of which may be completely unknown, only one of which was help from The Bus, and there is no way to know whether any of those candidates would not have won but for our help. What we do know is that in 2002 we set a goal to knock on 35,000 doors, and to help change the division in the Oregon Senate, by helping progressive candidates in five swing districts. We knocked on 50,000 doors, going out twice for those 5 candidates; four won. The senate convened in 2003 15 to 15, and elected a Democratic Senate President for the first time in a dozen years. (We also tried to help several house candidates, by going out just once for them; most lost -- although one, Jeff Barker, won by less than 50 votes. Every Bus volunteer who canvassed for him knocked on more than 50 doors.) We know that we set a goal in 2004 to finish what was started in '02: we helped five progressive senate candidates in swing districts; all five won. The Senate convened in 2005 18 to 12, and reelected the Democratic Senate candidate. (Again, we tried to help several house candidates; mixed success.) We know that last year we set a goal to help try and change the House, by canvassing for 10 progressive candidates in swing districts. Nine won, and in 2007 the Oregon House elected the first progressive speaker in 14 years. (We also canvassed for some Senate candidates, but that wasn't the focus; still, none lost.) We know that last year the Bus sponsored registration drive registered over 20,000 voters, over 15,000 of whom were young people -- and that young Oregonians tend heavily toward supporting progressive causes. And we know that the three cycle total of doors exceeded 200,000. Once again, no-one can know whether any of that was dispositive in any race. But it does seem a little more than "fluff." Second, I know that the single biggest deterrent that's kept Jefferson from running himself has been his deep belief in the mission of The Bus Project, and his commitment to the long term success of that mission. It is because he believes the leaders the Project has developed, and now has, will see to that success that he's taking on a race of his own. (I asked him the other day for the details of an evening event the Project was sponsoring; he took real delight in admitting that he both couldn't tell me, and yet had complete confidence it would go well -- which from reports I later received, it did).
    I wish I could take more credit for the practical idealism I have watched him develop over the last five years, but have to admit he's pretty much done that on his own. What I can say, without any reservation, that it is practical idealism that fuels his engine, and I pray every night that he won't run that engine so hard it breaks down before it's done all it can to meet the challenges we face. And I hope I can stick around long enough to watch how much it can accomplish.

  • Gerik (unverified)

    My perspective on Jeff starts from far off Montana.

    Some friends and I pulled together a little group called Forward Montana back in 2004. Our mission was to find out If it was possible for politcs to be exciting. We answered the question by engaging twenty somethings in political events. As it turns out the work was important, but it didn't pay so I came Oregon in search of a job.

    About two years ago, I met Jefferson at the Rebooting Democracy Conference in Welches. After the event he took the time to track me down and introduce himself to me because I posted a couple of measly blog entries about how cool the event was.

    Today with Jefferson's encoragement and support, Forward Montana is a fully funded nonprofit based in Missoula, Montana with 2.5 full time employees. We are a partner with The Bus Project, learn from their experiences, and spread the gospel of youth engagement farther than we ever could have without our Oregon connection.

    Jeff is a leader and he knows how to build leadership in other people. He challenges people to come up with new solutions and ideas, literally every day. He is passionate about people power and it shows with the success of Forward Montana and The Bus. He has certainly earned my support and I think he will be a great legislator.

  • Jessica Pederson (unverified)

    I live in District 47 and am so glad Jefferson Smith is running to represent this district. His experience, leadership and ability to build connections among people will be a huge assest for a part of the city that often struggles to get the political attention it deserves.

    He has a great vision for our area and already has endorsements from several key community leaders. Both of the county commissioners in the district, the head of the local school board and the head of the local community college board have endoresed him. Plus, he'll have my vote in the primary. :)

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)

    Jefferson will be a fabulous member of a strong House (under Speaker Sara Gelser...)

    Now you're talkin'!

  • observer (unverified)

    Being good at get elected (which has something to do with "movement building") is far different from being good at governing. One just has to look at the last 7 years of Republican rule to understand that. (Well maybe the last 27 years since Clinton in many ways was neo-liberal Republican lite.) I can remember how many of the Bus Project disciples here were really aggressive in their criticism of people who questioned whether Smith was a little "flexible" in his positions because he actually had a bigger personal political agenda.

    Now we see the questioners were on the right track and the critics have become campaign cheerleaders. We'll have to see how the campaign shapes up, but the 47th sure seems to deserve more respect than being just another rung on a political career ladder. My unsolicited advice to 47th voters: He's asking for something valuable from you --- your vote. Make him commit to positions on specific issues that actually are representative of your true values before giving him that. Take a look at the quoted statement that introduced this thread, you'll find few who wouldn't say they stand for exactly the same things when running, but governing is about what votes they will actually cast to deliver on those promises. And is far different from getting a lot of people to cheerlead for him.

  • Jeff Cured Me (unverified)

    One time I had polio and was blind but then Jeff touched me and I was cured! Go Jeff! Go!

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)

    governing is about what votes they will actually cast to deliver on those promises. And is far different from getting a lot of people to cheerlead for him.

    There are those who seem to think governing is all about the ballot box - but it's tons more than that. It's going door-to-door, writing letters to the editor, arguing with opponents...the list is as limited as an individual's imagination - yeah, some cheerleading might be in order too.

  • gold (unverified)

    LT said: In 2002, the Bus Project had something like a 50% victory record--as I recall they backed 14 candidates, won 7 and another lost by a very small margin and won the next time around. The State Senate went from R majority to 15-15 in 2002 and one senator told me the Bus Project was a major factor in his election. That is "fluff"?” Elizabeth Leventhal said: “The Bus has won 9 out of 10 State senate races in 04, which resulted in progressive led OR Senate for the first time in over a decade (after having achieved the power-sharing 15-15 tie in 02). They followed up the success by winning back the OR House in 06.” Claiming the above victory's for The Bus Project is a bit unrealistic don’t you think? Let me inform you how this works: The Bus Project, like some other political organizations, cherry pick the candidates they endorse/campaign for based on 1) who is consistent with their values and 2) who is likely to win. This plays out in a few ways all benefiting the organization: A: If a candidate has values exactly consistent with the organization but does not have a chance (read Kucinich like candidate) the Bus will not endorse or work for this candidate. In this way, the Bus won’t affect its perceived “effectiveness.” (Remember effectiveness or win % is used in fundraising pitches and volunteer recruitment, media interviews, etc). Also, this creates a self fulfilling prophecy--- the perceived unelectable candidate truly is unelectable when people start treating them like they are unelectable (this is a related but totally different topic). B: Similar to point A, if two candidates are running and one is right on point with every Bus value but does not have a chance of winning and the other is the assumed winner and is sort of on point with the Bus’s values the Bus will work for/ endorse the clear winner and take credit.
    C: If two candidates are running who both hold values consistent with the organization but it is not immediately clear who will win the Bus endorses both or gives the green light to both candidates. In this way, the perceived effectiveness of the organization increases and people tout the win as a victory. C: If no candidates are running who hold their values they obviously do not endorse and this doesn’t affect perceived efficiency. Finally, organizations like the bus take credit for macro changes like Leventhal’s point: “[the bus] followed up the success by winning back the OR House in 06.” The truth is democrats’ winning in State and Federal elections was a trend all around the country (probably because people associate R’s with corruption and war). So, the Bus had little to do with it. This is akin to Stand For Children taking credit, well for everything, but recently for increases Oregon’s school funding budget. Just so you know, school funding based on income tax and we were really struggling because Oregon was in a recession. Now our economy is better and more tax income is flowing in for schools (for the record paying for schools with a non-stable tax base is stupid). I pick on Stand For Children particularly in this case because J. Edelman and J. Smith strategize together and sit on each others boards – other organizations do the same thing.
    So, this all boils down to the Bus being a FLUFF ORGANZIATION.

  • Big Barton (unverified)


    You are correct that no person or organization can claim exclusive credit for a complex event, such as an election, which is the product of thousands of discrete factors. With that said, does anyone really believe that the Oregon House would have been 31-29 in the last session if the Bus Project did not exist? We should start by asking Jeff Barker and Jean Cowan. Also consider the resources the Republican party had to expend to protect certain seats because the Bus Project helped make them competitive.

    But assume for a moment that the Bus Project did not participate in elections. The organization's voter registration efforts and political training programs belie your claim that the Bus is "fluff."

  • (Show?)

    Hardly, but thank you thought for your commentary.

    It gives me the opportunity to correct myself: the Bus was INSTRUMENTAL IN HELPING tie the OR Senate in 02, tip it Dem in 04, & win back the OR House in 06.

    Like a previous poster said, we were merely a part of the process and the quality of the candidates are at the heart such victories.

    And yes, the Bus was strategic in its assessments of who to back, like any good organization would be. I would hardly classify the proces though as 'cherry-picking'. More like maximizing opportunities for change.

    Nor were the races picked easy targets. The Bus has won in places that were hardly liberal bastions, such as the Coast, Ashland, & the Portland suburbs, form Woods Village to Beaverton.

    But most important is the impact that our grassroots, volunteer-led canvasses had on the long-term future of the state.

    Simply put, Oregon is now a better place to live than it was 5 years ago.

    Jefferson will do the same for his district: help improve the quality of life for its residents, increase access to education, health care, the ability to make a good living, etc.

    That is why I am so proud to count myself as one of many of his enthusiastic supporters.

  • dartagnan (unverified)

    Great news. I have talked with Jeff Smith personally and heard him speak. He is amazingly sharp, eloquent and charismatic. I hope this is the first step in what will be a long and highly successful political career.

    "Senator Jefferson Smith" -- I love the sound of that.

    "President Jefferson Smith" -- even better.

  • dartagnan (unverified)

    gold: Why don't you go back to the Freak Republic site, troll?

  • Cynical Dem (unverified)

    Its amazing that if one doesn't agree with the rest of the 78 posters, you are immediately dismissed as a troll. As I've heard around town, there are as many people happy about this candidate as unhappy. Doesn't make them Republicans; just makes them people capable of other thoughts than yours. Many non-profits operate on the same model, claiming victory which in many cases should be a group victory, not just one organization. non-profits with PACs also pick the winning horse, despite agreement on issues. That's a hard one because many times, candidates come before PACs and are wonderful but have no chance in the general. Instead of grooming, we dismiss in favor of the popular kid. No wonder we miss so many diamonds in the rough.

    Sometimes it's not fun to play here...

  • (Show?)

    It is a group victory. Never claimed otherwise. The Bus has plenty of partners & friends who they happily support and share the spotlight with (from unions to 1000 Friends of Oregon to Stand w/Children).

    As far as Jonah Edelman is concerned, the fact that he & Jeff are close and get along only bodes well for the type of legislator Jefferson will be: someone who is smart enough to surround himself w/bright, caring leaders working tirelessly for kids, schools, & other vital causes.

    Jefferson's heart is in the right place and that is the quality that will see him thru any challenge.

  • gold (unverified)

    I promise I am not a troll or a republican. I am a "Social Change Agent." HAHA. Ok, sorry, I didn't mean that. I am trying to help all of us, myself included, to be more critical about our own party. If we just pick sides (red or blue) what are we really doing anyway? And, news flash, democrats can be power hungry asswipes too (for the record I am not calling J. Smith a power hungry asswipe at the moment)!

  • LT (unverified)

    I have known Jeff for several years. I know both his parents--his Dad back decades (Jeff was originally known to some of us old folks as Joe's son).

    If you have a specific beef with Jeff or Bus that is one thing, but some of this sounds like people are unhappy that through hard work a young man helped an organization rise to prominence and now has announced he is running for office.

    But comments like saying BUS is fluff sound like cynicism or sour grapes. BUS changed the tone in 2002 from "money is all that matters and only professionals know how the game is played" to reminding people of the importance of grass roots. Notice Sal's remark above.

    No one said they are perfect or their means of choosing candidates to support is more transparent than other groups (FP, other nonprofits or unions or whatever). But to say Jeff has no "street cred" is either sour grapes or someone who was considering running but doesn't have name familiarity.

  • Rodney King (unverified)

    Okay, looks like time to move on to another topic. People seem to have had their chance to be heard.

    Smith’ll have some strong support, and he’ll probably run a strong campaign, and hopefully he’ll be as good a legislator as many here would suggest. He certainly doesn’t seem to be an idiot, a sloth, or a profit-monger. I suppose anyone who does things will always have some rooters and some haters. All anyone can hope for is that the former outnumber the latter by a hair...they seem to here. He’ll be a freshman in any event, so he probably won’t light anyone on fire in the first term.

    As for the Bus, it seems to help as a general matter. There’s no argument that bus folks registered 20k+ voters in 2006, for example. As for the political work, some would say it helps a little, some a lot, some would say hugely/enormously/dispositively. Most candidates the Bus has worked with probably fall into category B, with some nailbiters in C. Anyhow, none of these opinions will have much impact on reality. And none of the critiques are things that couldn’t be applied to just about any political organization. The Bus is not at issue in District 47 in any event.

    So we should probably move on to another topic, whether it’s D47 itself, the legislature, or something else. Or maybe on another thread. This looks like a 3-person tempest in a teapot today.

    The most interesting remaining thing for me here is the possibility of another cure for polio. Hopefully it will be able to help the Zygotes.

  • (Show?)

    I've never gone on a canvass with the Bus, but my husband has done many and we have both been to a number of Bus related events (him more than me). I remember asking my husband a couple of years ago if the Bus Project wasn't really a little bit of a cult of personality! -- and while I still think there's been some of that going on, it is clear to me that Jeff is a remarkable individual who has both a clear and original vision, and the charisma to persuade others to bring that vision to life. It helps that he's highly intelligent and a terrific public speaker to boot.

    I would say that I'm not in the cult. But I have come to have enormous regard and personal affection for Jeff. And I did slip him a few bucks on ActBlue yesterday. I have great confidence in his ability to serve the people of Oregon with distinction.

    My only advice to Jeff: better hire Mandate Media to do your website, so you can keep getting some good pixels over here.


  • Reincarnates for Smith (unverified)

    I first met Jeff in my 3rd life in Utah and just want to say how happy I am for the constituents of HD47 (even thought I don't live there or spend any time there). He'll make a great candidate this time around and in his next life.

  • Zoe Walmer (unverified)

    A: If a candidate has values exactly consistent with the organization but does not have a chance (read Kucinich like candidate) the Bus will not endorse or work for this candidate. In this way, the Bus won’t affect its perceived “effectiveness.” (Remember effectiveness or win % is used in fundraising pitches and volunteer recruitment, media interviews, etc). Also, this creates a self fulfilling prophecy--- the perceived unelectable candidate truly is unelectable when people start treating them like they are unelectable (this is a related but totally different topic).

    Gold: The Bus does choose races in which we have a chance to win, that's true. But this isn't because we try to take credit for winning easy seats, it's done so that we maximize the work done by our volunteers. The Bus doesn't throw it's full force into seats that are already won or into unwinnable seats because they don't waste volunteers time.

    This means that every volunteer knows that if they spend an hour with the Bus they have made a difference. This is what keeps volunteers coming back and becoming the new leaders of this Progressive movement.

    Jenni--Yup, I was definitely on the coast trip for Verger and Cowan, but I'm not sure if it was my first. My first trip was the first one of the summer of 2004--in any case I know we've been on a trip together! I made self depricating remarks abut how I only rode the bus because I couldn't drive yet (I was 14 at the time) for months though. :)

  • roxanne bruns (unverified)

    I once saw Jefferson levitate a few inches off of the ground while dazzling a crowd like only he can.

  • (Show?)


    That's probably the one then. I know I did the first trips of the season that year. I remember them introducing you on the bus, and I thought it was great to see more young people who couldn't vote yet getting involved.

    I'd gotten involved in local politics at 12 and partisan politics by age 14, so anytime I meet someone who is around that age and getting involved, they really stand out to me.

    I like riding the bus. It's always a lot of fun, and it's amazing how much you can learn on the trip. I've met a lot of great people that way.


    If anyone thinks the Bus picks only winnable races, they need to look at the races that have been worked. Laurie Monnes Anderson's run in 2004 wasn't easy. We worked Jim Buck's race (HD 50) that year as well. Monnes Anderson won (adding another D to the state senate), but Buck lost.

    There have been races they've worked on where the win margin was really low - Jeff Barker, for instance, won by 50 votes.

    It's hard to say they pick easy races when you look at the facts. They could go real easy and just work Portland. They'd always win.

    Instead, they go to Washington County, eastern Multnomah County, the coast, etc. to win seats. I know, I've been there. I've canvassed with them, and none of the races we canvassed in were easy wins or sure things.

    I've also sat through board meetings for the PAC where the agenda included discussions on which candidates were going to get support. Never in those discussions did we push for the Bus to go for easy races. Obviously we weren't going to pick a race where there was 30% more Rs than there were Ds. But going to a district that was obviously going to be won by a D wasn't a good use of resources either.

    Is the Bus Project perfect. No. Then again, I've never found any other organization that is either. But it does a great job of getting young people, college students, 20-somethings, etc. involved in politics. They do a good job of turning out volunteers to speak with voters - one of the most worthwhile things you can do in a campaign. And they help candidates win.

  • (Show?)


    No, it must've been the one to Washington County - the one on the same day as the gala that night. That would have been the first one. Lincoln City was the second trip, I think.

    It was the first time I met Christy Splitt, who I've done quite a bit of volunteering with since then.

  • (Show?)

    One time I met Jeff on the street while taking my sick son to the doctor. He touched my son, and suddenly his yellow discharge disappeared. Also he had root beer barrels and gave us BOTH one. Does YOUR candidate carry candy?

  • (Show?)

    Many non-profits operate on the same model, claiming victory which in many cases should be a group victory, not just one organization.

    In my experience, Jefferson Smith always shares credit with everyone else that was involved.

  • (Show?)

    My only advice to Jeff: better hire Mandate Media to do your website, so you can keep getting some good pixels over here.

    Don't be an asshole. That's not how it works and you know it.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. For the record, Jefferson chose not to hire Mandate Media -- and I'm perfectly happy about that. We're good friends, and I support his campaign. Nothing will change that. Period.

  • (Show?)

    Besides, if people are hiring Mandate Media to get good coverage at BlueOregon - they've got a highly inflated sense of the importance of BlueOregon and they're wasting their money.

  • (Show?)

    Better late than never and back on topic on this thread.

    Jefferson and The Bus he helped create helped me discover how to be a positive participant in our state and for our democracy. Without him there's a chance I'd still be grousing with an occasional letter to the editor or blog post instead of actively working for change.

    District 47 will get a great representative by electing Jefferson Smith.

  • Earl B. (Not Earl. B.) (unverified)

    Note to Jeff: I'm not retiring anytime soon.

  • kylamobyla (unverified)

    I'll be interested to see what Jeff can do on the campaign trail and in the House. He is incredibly charismatic and has the ability to mobilize vast numbers of people, to make them truly believe in his message (our message?). Do you think he will be able to persuade these crusty legislators?

    I've been involved with the Bus Project for over 4 years, and I feel as though Jeff definitely has what it takes to be a state legislator, there is no one more passionate or informed about this great state and I look forward to seeing him and the other progressives get to work.

    An add on, I wasn't prompted to say this by any kind of political pressure, just felt like Jeff is deserving of my virgin post on blueoregon.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)

    a highly inflated sense of the importance of BlueOregon

    But Kari, you yourself boasted on KPOJ that Blue0's "the biggest blog in Oregon." You then went on to claim, the "Media follows our lead."

    they're wasting their money.

    Keep popping off like above and your clients may well be convinced you're right. Now have a cookie and go to bed, big guy...

  • (Show?)

    Jefferson Smith goes to Salem.


  • thisKat (unverified)

    I sat next to Jefferson in 7th grade English. It was clear even then he'd go on to great things. Congrats, Jeff!

  • Quinn Reilly (unverified)

    Late but out of state so please forgive...

    You're like a brother Jeff, and it kills me that I won't get to help you take this next step. Godspeed.

    Oregon is going to be one damn cool place to live for the next 30 years, mark my words...

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