Removing Gordon Smith in 2008

Albert Kaufman

Last week I was sitting in Senator Gordon Smith's office in Washington, DC waiting to speak to one of his aides about S. 368 The Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act and S. 809 Access to Legal Pharmaceuticals Act (ALPHA). The two "receptionists" were young guys joshing about something happening on CNN above my head. Something about the way they were acting spurred me to thinking about the fact that California and Washington both have two women democrat senators and Oregon has Wyden and Smith. Then I started thinking about where most of the people in Oregon live - Portland and how Senators are elected by a majority in their state. Then I started thinking that with all of the intelligent, savvy, and creative lefties we have in Portland, Bend, Eugene and elsewhere, what would it take to de-elect Senator Smith in 2008?

I don't have a game plan, but later flying at 37,000 feet my thinking got elevated and I started dreaming about having a Senator that actually represented me - one who wasn't beholden to the timber industry and other big business but who actually reflected the progressive nature of this state. I'd like to walk into this Senator's office in the future to thank him or her for co-sponsoring the legislation I care about, not to hear his/her staff equivocate about why they can't back a bill which supports a womans' right to choose.

Plus, think about the dream-team staff one could have running the office in DC :) Also seems that a winning effort led by Portland could be a template for winning Senate seats in other states with big progressive city populations.

Along these lines, I wonder about a similar effort to remove Rep. Walden. What type of effort from those of us West of the Cascades could help make this happen? This might make good practice for 2008 and if progressives want to take back the House in 2006 we might as well focus on the one seat in the state where there's a chance to change the R to a D. I'd love to see Blumenauer, DeFazio, Wu and Hooley all pump some of their campaign $ into this fight and see progressives around the state focus on this race.

  • no one in particular (unverified)

    Here's an article about a Smith staffer that wrote anti-consumer legislation for the entertainment industry (to be sponsored by Smith), then left to go take a job with Viacom. Sweet move, dude.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)

    I would love to de-elect Smith in 2008. Even more than that, though, I would love to de-elect Greg Walden right now.

    Greg Walden is slick and polished. He's got piles of money. But his voting record is anti-small town Oregon. He's not just a Republican, he's a Republican who puts big oil before farmers and ranchers. He's a Republican who puts southern religious interests before small-town business owners. He's not just bad, he's bad for the people he’s supposed to represent.

    But to beat him, the voters in CD 2 need to know he’s bad and there’s an alternative. Most of the work will fall on the Democrats in Central, Southern and Eastern Oregon. But we can do some things:

    1.) Raise the general awareness of how bad Greg Walden is for rural Oregon. Say it with me: Greg Walden is bad for small town Oregon. 2.) Press our Democratic luminaries (congressional delegation, Governor, and recent elected officials like Kitzhaber) to head out east and stump for the Democratic challenger. 3.) Give money to the Democratic challenger.

    This is not an unwinnable race. It’s just a very challenging one. But we won’t win it if we don’t even try.

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    That's the ticket Bert.

    FuturePAC has as a central strategy, that you can't win if you don't put up a candidate for state house races.

    Ditto the nationals. The state party boys and luminaries need to add this right into their annual "to-do" list. They have gone so far as to look at a few races as two or three race efforts, where you gradually build falmiliarity with the candidate's name and position on key issues, while pointing out the inadequacies of the R incumbent.


    As far as the Gordon Smith challenge, there is already a Dem candidate who has decided to run in '08 named Ty Petit. Ty is the owner of a small business and chairs the DPO's Small Business Council.

    The Achilles heel for Ty is that he has promised to step back if some incumbent or other with better name recognition decides that they want to take a run.

    This, of course does not bode well for a long sustained campaign, 'cause how enthused will the kingmakers ever get over a guy that may get shuffled aside in the '08 primary by an insider.......

  • red (unverified)

    Newsflash: Gordom Smith does represent a lot of Oregonians. Not everyone is a Democrat.


  • Rep. Peter Buckley (unverified)


    Thanks for acknowledging the effort we are making with FuturePac, that we can't win if we don't put up a candidate. We've worked very hard to recruit some excellent candidates all over the state, including in districts where the GOP has had a longtime edge. These are some remarkable people--Ben Talley in Pendleton, Howard Owens in Grants Pass, Mike Moran in Medford, Dr. Jim Calvert in Klamath Falls, the list goes on and on.

    As far as Mr. Smith goes, I share Albert's strong desire to have a Senator we can rely on to represent all of us in Oregon, not just the connected few. We have four excellent folks going after Mr. Walden--Dan Davis is the candidate I know the best and have endorsed--and I passionately believe that we absolutely must (as Gov. Dean has said repeatedly) run everywhere and run hard and take our country back. We need to start focusing on Smith and 2008 as soon as possible (while still making sure we kick butt in 2006, of course).

    Thanks & Onward, PB

  • Andy N. (unverified)

    Newsflash II - the only thing I can think of that would be worse than an all Democratic congressional delegation would be an all Republican one. No, I take that back, either one would be bad.

    I'm always amazed by the arrogance of people who complain that their legislator "doesn't represent them", and then they turn around an advocate for the election of a different legislator that will represent them, but not other people. Yeah, that's the Oregon way.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    If you're wondering what you can do now, it is to pick a candidate in the Primary and write letters of support to your papers. These papers, particularly the Oregonian get circulation outside the Westside. You can be assured that no candidate is exactly over funded, money helps. Word of mouth with friends across the District border also helps. This will show voters that the Walden race is taken seriously and is about winning, perception counts for quite a bit. Thanks, Chuck

  • Bess (unverified)

    "Then I started thinking about where most of the people in Oregon live - Portland"

    Actually, only 16% of the state's population lives in the City of Portland. Even if you take the whole Portland region, that is about 40% of the state's population and the region includes several republican strongholds. Oregon does have a center-left tilt but it is not the liberal paradise people think. If Hooley and DeFazio decided to retire, those seats could easily switch parties. I am not a fan of Smith, but I know this state pretty well and he is not aberrant.

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    Pat wrote, FuturePAC has as a central strategy, that you can't win if you don't put up a candidate for state house races. Ditto the nationals.

    Pat, the latest I've heard is that there are going to be more contested US House races this year than any time in the last three decades. Could be as few as a dozen that go uncontested. In years past, there have been as many as a hundred.

    So the word is trickling up from the grassroots - and down from Howard Dean. Run everywhere. Make 'em defend every seat.

  • rtaycher1987 (unverified)

    Actually I think DeFazio's district is faitly liberal,Hooley's could easily switch on open seat and I think Wu's could give us some trouble with an open seat. Run everywhere but remember that Walden is safe. Smith on the other hand probably has only a 55-63% chance of re-election depending on his opponent, the national mood, and the shape of the presidential race.

  • Andy N. (unverified)

    I'm probably one of the few BlueOregon readers who has actually voted for both Smith and Wyden.

    Calling for an all Democratic Party sweep of federal legislative races is probably what you partisans have to do, but remember what happened the last time you ran everything at the federal level - in 1994, the Republicans chased you all off. Now, the Republicans are repeating your mistakes of arrogance. Guess history does repeat itself.

    Here is a novel idea - Instead of trying to run out all the halfway decent Republicans like Smith and Walden, why don't you improve your own candidate stock? Wu and Hooley are jokes. Blumenaur is great...find more people like him. DeFazio is ok...but getting kind of stale since he has been in power so long. So you've got two of your own to improve on...

    • I know, unsolicited advice from an independent...probably makes a lot of your left wingers roll your eyes. I'll go over and unload on the right wingers now.
  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    The largest problem with getting rid of Smith, is getting unity among Democrats. There are a significant number of Oregon leaders, who place porkbarrel projects ahead of ideology. And you can guarantee that that will be the Oregonian's position. So if people are serious about defeating Smith, the first thing they need to do is build a consensus among Democrats that that's a worthy objective.

    I think it's important to remember that, in 1990, Mark Hatfield was threatened with defeat. It was only the last-minute efforts of people like Earl Blumenauer and Elizabeth Furse that prevented his defeat. That didn't prevent either of them from getting elected to Congress in the future. I think we should expect a similar campaign from some Democrats if Gordon Smith faced a serious challenge.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)


    I agree with the principle of your post but not the specifics. Greg Walden is not a half-way decent Republican. He's more of a Tom DeLay than a Mark Hatfield.

    A concerted campaign against him, even if it fails, may force him to start voting with his constituents instead of against them. Right now, he's bad for his district.

  • Ted (unverified)

    It's too bad John Kitzhaber didn't take Smith out in 2004, because he could have. He also still could. I know Kitzhaber is busy with his healthcare thing, but if he's savvy enough to understand the larger battleground then he should realize that we need him in the Senate.

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    I'm not as familiar with Greg Walden's voting record (or other public acts) as I'd like to be.

    I see his district stretches from Idaho to include the cities of Hood River, Bend, and Medford (including, of course, a whole lot of high desert in between.)

    Can anybody substantiate the claims being made, and explain why he is "more of a Tom DeLay than a Mark Hatfield" in his service to that region?

    Name calling ain't nice...and "Tom DeLay" is an especially nasty name to call somebody ;)


  • (Show?)

    i think Andy's point is something we must remember; it's something i think about when we in Oregon talk about how great it will be when we Dems control all offices yet attack the GOP for doing the same in DC. the obvious difference, of course, is the nature of the two parties. not the politics or policies but the inextinguishable variety within the Democratic Party versus the goosestepping hordes of the Rs (like the imagery?) as long as the Dems can encourage the full range of perspectives, and as long as we remain (as we are becoming) a grassroots-driven party, i think we can avoid the problems that led to 1994. we'll probably have to listen to "the Dems are a divided mess" whingings forever, but it'll be worth it.

  • (Show?)

    Regarding Walden, I think it would be interesting for someone to blog a seperate entry about him so we can discuss him seperately. And discuss him we shall.

    I really appreciate everyones' comments in response to my original post. It's helped me think about Smith and what it might take to take him out. I do not think he is decent, or moderate. I also wish Kitzhaber had challenged him, he'd be in the Senate now and I would have had a better visit to Washington, DC.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    Pete - you wrote:

    "I'm not as familiar with Greg Walden's voting record (or other public acts) as I'd like to be.
    I see his district stretches from Idaho to include the cities of Hood River, Bend, and Medford (including, of course, a whole lot of high desert in between.)"

    The Second Congressional District of Oregon is the nations 4th largest District. See a map at

    Greg Walden has a horrible voting record. In summary he is anti-rural, anti-District, and anti-Oregon. He has voted against rural health care, soliders and veterans, education, loans for college students, against fiscal accountability (wouldn't vote in favor of investigating where the missing billions went in Iraq), votes for corporate welfare like the $150 billion tax cut for big oil, votes for sending jobs overseas, votes against beefing up national security (funds for chemical plant security), votes against States Rights (taking away State control of siting energy production facilities), and on and on. -- We put an 18 page summary of some of his votes on the Crook County Dem website -

    "Can anybody substantiate the claims being made, and explain why he is "more of a Tom DeLay than a Mark Hatfield" in his service to that region? Name calling ain't nice...and "Tom DeLay" is an especially nasty name to call somebody ;)"

    Besides all of what is noted above - proved by roll call votes on the link I note - Walden votes with Tom Delay about 94% of the time - I say "about" because that statistic is now a couple months old. So, it's not name calling - it is calling out straight what is. And just to remind all or inform those that don't follow this - Walden is one of those who has received campaign money from Tom DeLay.

    It is possible that Greg Walden is the worst Congressman we have ever sent to Washington from Oregon.

  • Robin Ozretich (unverified)

    Perhaps Peter DeFazio will run against Gordon Smith in 2008. I think he would be a strong contender.

  • Mary (unverified)

    Steve sez: "It is possible that Greg Walden is the worst Congressman we have ever sent to Washington from Oregon."

    Ever heard of Denny Smith? Wes Cooley?

  • (Show?)


    Steve Bucknum, ignorant refugee from California; or long time central oregon resident, long time DPO activist, driving force behind the formation of the DPO's Rural Caucus?

    Only time will tell I guess, but time probably won't waste itself trying to tell Mary.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)

    Ah, yes. Wes Cooley. But Greg Walden may be the second worst.

  • Garlynn (unverified)


    You raise a good point about dems coming to Smith's aid in order to protect the logistics of pork-barrel politics.

    However, Smith is not Hatfield. Hatfield was (correct me if I'm wrong) chair of the Senate Finance Committee, as was as such in a powerful position to bring home the bacon.

    Smith has not yet been in office long enough to be as valuable to the state as Hatfield was in the early 90s. So, there is a very strong case to be made that now is a good time to replace him, as his replacement will have the opportunity to re-take the Senate for the Dems, and then build seniority within the new Senate from what will amount to the blank slate of freshly-installed leadership (in that a new Dem senator will probably rank just as high as a Repub senator with only a term and a half under his belt if the Dems are back in the saddle).

    So, Dems just need to not break ranks. If Blumenauer, et all can be united in opposition to Smith, despite the small amount of pork that he has brought home to date, then his opponent will have a very good chance at election.

    Especially if that opponent is Kitzhaber.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    Mary writes:

    "Ever heard of Denny Smith? Wes Cooley?"

    Well, I was in the Second CD when Denny beat Ullman - I then lived in Oregon City, which was then in the Second CD.

    Denny was a mixed bag. In many ways he was in the conservative wing of the Republicans even back then - but today we might call him a moderate Republican due to that groups move further to the right (well, off the edge if you ask me). Denny always did work to benefit the District. He may not have voted the way you'd like, but he did so thinking that some of what he was doing was to help the District. My read of Greg Walden's voting record is that he is totally in the pocket of the oil industry, and doesn't give a rip what happens to his District. - Yes, that makes him worse than Mr. Smith.

    Wes Cooley was supposedly my neighbor - two doors down the street - when he first ran for office - State Senator from my District here in Central Oregon. He actually lived in the next district over, but rented a place in Prineville - where I never once saw him even though I have a good view of that house. I met with him after he was elected regarding some advocacy for alcohol/drug treatment. Besides being a less than honorable person in so many ways, he was very ignorant of the issues that he was to be dealing with in Salem. He did manage to jump into the Bob Smith spot after he retired, and served a two-year term in Congress, the last half more or less under a cloud. Yet, because he was so marginal in so many ways, he did very little damage. Doing little harm versus doing great harm - well, Greg Walden is much worse than even crazy Wes Cooley.

    So Mary, yes - I am well aware of those two people, and Greg Walden's voting record makes him a much worse Congressman than those guys - by a large factor.

  • duke (unverified)

    While Cooley may win dumbest Oregon congressman, the winner in the worst Oregon congressman should go to Congressman John N. Williamson. Along with our Senator John Mitchell, we was convicted of defrauding the american people by giving away large tracts of public forest land to their cronies in 1905. Mitchell died before sentencing, but Williamson did real time.

    Walden, however much I disagree with his voting record, represents the opinions of a majority of his district-at least the way his district is today. He's also the hardest working elected official in Oregon. His policies are representative of the reactionary elements in Oregon politics-both rural and urban. Progressives ignore him at our peril.

  • Pavel Goberman (unverified)

    Dear Mr Albert Kaufman, do not dream about if some US Senator will talk to you and all Oregonians: I will do it. I promise. I'm now a Candidate for US Repres. 1st Congr. Distr. (against D. Wu) and in 2008 I'm going to run against G. Smith, and not only to run against his political garbage, bur get this Political Prostitute out from our office. He, Wyden, Wu, Blumenauer and many others are corrupted, ignoring us, the PEOPLE, violating the Constitution of the USA. The Oregonians must cut out this political cancer of our society and it will be very good for our nation.

    Pavel Goberman - Candidate for US Reprs.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    Duke -

    1905 was the year my grandmother was born. So you may have a historic point, but so what.

    In terms of "the people of the District" - generally they don't have a clue about Walden's voting record. The Portland media that we get just doesn't cover him. The local papers, many owned by Denny Smith, only print his press releases.

    I count myself as a fairly informed person. I didn't know about some of these horrible votes until my wife and I did research. To find many of these roll call votes, we had to mine the Congressional record - they are buried deep.

    No, Walden's district doesn't generally know that he votes against States Rights. We generally don't know that he votes to send jobs overseas. The day he voted for the $150 Billion tax cut for oil companies, the local paper ran his announcement of a poetry contest for students.

    Duke, the real Walden is buried from view in his District. The more we bring out his voting record, the less he will be liked. Your blanket statement that he reflects his District assumes you know his District, and assumes his District knows his record. -- Both apparent false assumptions.

  • josh (unverified)

    If DeFazio decides to challenge Smith then the 4th CD would almost certainly go to a republican for the first time since 1974. Without a doubt the most talked about name is Springfield Mayor Sid Leiken, who is from a longtime democratic family and is now a republican. The interesting piece to this, it is fairly well known that DeFazio and Leiken are actually good friends and work very well together. Another words a democrat may only get lukewarm support from the DeFazio camp in a congressional campaign.

  • (Show?)


    Thanks very much for the info on the 2nd district. I'll be looking it over more closely.

    As to the comparison to DeLay, I guess I'm just put off by the rhetorical approach. (It's the original post, not your comments, that irritates me.)

    Don't get me wrong, knowing that Walden voted with DeLay 94% of the time over that period is useful information.

    But the reason DeLay is, what's the word? crucified? these days is not his voting record. It's his association and likely collusion with a confessed criminal, and his coercive behavior as majority leader, that have turned people against him.

    Looking to capitalize on that negative image by lumping another Republican congressman in with him, merely on the basis of his voting record, strikes me as dirty pool.

    Anyway, thanks for the info on Walden. Sounds like a rep whose time has come.


  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    Smith seems almost unbeatable. DeFazio maybe could do it, but he hates fundraising. Kitzhaber maybe could, but would he want to? Probably no more than in '02.

    As far as the 2nd CD, Bob Smith was unbeatable during the decade he served, and by the time he retired in '94 it was so Republican that event a corrupt moron, Wes Cooley, won in a landslide over a moderate with good credentials, Sue Kupillas. She even lost her own county of Jackson where she was (and maybe still is) a commissioner.

    Walden won the open seat in '98 by a big margin and outspent Kevin Campbell 10-1. No national Democratic group will consider funding the seat, which is as Republican as the 3rd CD is Democratic. People like my cattle rancher father in Central OR love Walden because he is pro timber, pro ranching, and pro gun. That's all it takes. Walden is probably more vulnerable from a right wing challenger because he has been pro choice and pro gay rights, although he obviously minimizes those issues. He is still very conservative, though, something like 90% plus from the American Conservative Union and less than 10% from the liberal ADA. That record will probably prevent him from ever achieving his goal of becoming Oregon's governor, though.

  • LT (unverified)

    He is still very conservative, though, something like 90% plus from the American Conservative Union and less than 10% from the liberal ADA. That record will probably prevent him from ever achieving his goal of becoming Oregon's governor, though.

    How many cattle ranchers, sales clerks, etc. know what ADA and ACU stand for, much less what the ratings mean?

    Walden went from squeeky clean to buddy of DeLay, and to me that hurts his political future more than anything else.

  • (Show?)

    Steve Buckman sent me some very interesting reports he's done on Walden's district. I recommend people contact him and ask him for these.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    Voters might not know what ADA or ACU stand for, but they think that Democrats are anti-logging anti-ranching, anti-gun ect.... and that kills us. It's hard to beleive now, but through the early 90s, Democrats held the congressional seats in Central/Eastern Wash, Idaho, and Montana. After '94, however, we really haven't come close in any of those seats, with the exception of Montana The New Deal Democrats who supported people like Al Ullman and Tom Foley are almost extinct. As for the 2nd CD, we haven't come close since 1980, even though Kupillas outspent Cooley in '94, and Cooley had ethical problems that come out even before he was elected. I would love to see that seat competative, but I think that only Alan Bates or some moderate self funder would have any remote chance. It would cost a ton, partly because the 2nd includes something like four media markets. As for Delay, my guess is that he will be quickly forgotten not that he's lsot his power, and voters out there that I talk to don't trust John Kerry and Hillary Clinton any more than DeLay. Let's face reality, the 2nd CD is Republican, the 3rd CD is Democratic, and the other three are swing districts. We are so fortunate to have those three, which will be tough to hold whenever they open up. We finally won back a state senate seat within the 2nd CD (Bates). We should focus on winning a couple of house seats there. Judy Stigler almost won in Bend in '04 and Jim Gilbertson, who is running again, almost won north Central Oregon (Dist. 59) in '02. Bob Jenson won in Pendelton in '96 but he quickly to NAV and then Republican. That doesn't mean we give Walden a free ride, but we are probably not going to convice folks in places like Crook County to vote him out any more than they would convice Portlanders to vote against Earl. B. Despite what voters say, most of them do vote party line.

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