At a noon press conference today, Speaker Jeff Merkley endorsed Barack Obama for President.
Previously, Merkley had been the co-chair of the Oregon for Edwards committee. Today, the leadership of the Oregon for Edwards team all endorsed Barack Obama - Merkley, Senator Margaret Carter (D-Portland), and local attorney Robert Stoll.
A number of the other members of the Oregon for Edwards steering committee also endorsed Barack Obama today, too. (I'll have a complete list later today - and it includes me. More on that later.)
In a statement, Merkley noted his and Obama's shared background of working with low-income families for affordable housing:
Barack Obama and I share something more in common than simply our determination to change America for the better ... Both of us come from the grassroots, where real change is sewn: Senator Obama was an organizer, committed to public housing in the neighborhoods of Chicago. And I worked with low- income families in need of housing through Habitat for Humanity and Human Solutions here in Portland.
Both Senator Obama and I understand what it means to empower Americans house-by-house, community-by-community. That's the reason I'm running for U.S. Senate – to put that kind of power back into the hands of everyday Oregonians again. And that's the same reason I'm endorsing Barack Obama for President today.
At the press conference today, Merkley sounded an optimistic note - saying that he looks forward to a strong Obama presidency focused on bringing the American people together.
Of course, that's a stark contrast with Steve Novick's recent comments about Barack Obama. His statement this morning was a strange and back-handed not-quite-endorsement:
[Hillary Clinton] knows, possibly better than Obama, what’s wrong with the country, and she knows what we need to do to fix it. ... I am voting for Barack Obama because I believe that he has the self-confidence to base his Presidency on hope, rather than fear. And because, even if I might ultimately be disappointed, I’d rather be disappointed in new ways, rather than the same old ways.
I don't know about you, but the presidential field this year was an embarassment of riches. Unlike some past election cycles, I wasn't deeply disappointed by any of the candidates. Sure, I had my quibbles - and I was definitely an Edwards guy first, and an Obama guy second (and hooray for Chris Dodd!), but "disappointed"? Nope.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to a general election where the top of our ticket here in Oregon will be Barack Obama for President and Jeff Merkley for U.S. Senate. They've both still got to win their primaries, but that's a ballot that will lead us to victory here in Oregon.
[Full disclosure: My company built Jeff Merkley's website. I was a volunteer and donor for John Edwards on the Oregon for Edwards committee. As always, I speak here only for myself.]