Gordon Smith: "I've done everything that conservatives want."

It's officially over.

The long-standing fiction that Gordon Smith is "a leading GOP moderate" is over. Best of all, not even the Oregonian can make that idea stick anymore.

Why? Because Gordon made it crystal clear to the Oregonian:

[Gordon Smith] says that if someone checks his votes, "I've done everything that conservatives want."

At least that's one thing that Senator Smith is right about. As the Senate Majority Project points out:

Smith has voted with fellow GOP conservatives 92, 89 and 82 percent of the time in 2003, 2004 and 2005 respectively. (Congressional Quarterly) Also, the Christian Coalition gave Smith a high 83 percent rating for 2003 and 2004. The National Right to Life Committee gave him a 91 for the same years.

Head on over to Senate Majority to read the rest. Discuss.

  • (Show?)

    We covered Srinu's story this morning, but I was concerned by what seemed to be a slightly cherry-picked set of advocacy group ratings from a number of years. He also neglects to note that in 3 years, Smith's "conservative rating" has dropped 10 points--a trend that does indicate some recent moderating influence. And if you look at Keith Poole's awesome Congressional rank order listings for the last couple sessions, you'll find Smith right in the middle, just to the right of the Democrats. (link supplied if needed; try googling "Keith Poole" and "109th Senate Rank Ordering")

    Also, that quote is taken out of context. He was referring to what he's given conservatives on immigration, not in general. And on immigration, he's really talking through his hat in order to appease the Oregon right; his previous statements in that interview do show a more moderate stance.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    I like to rate my Senators and Representatives on a "better or worse" scale. Is Senator Smith better or worse than Bill Frist? Is Senator Smith better or worse than Larry Craig? Is Senator Smith better or worse than John Cornyn? You get the idea. I think that my rating system puts Senator Smith as being "better" than about 45 of his fellow Republicans. The point is not that I want Republican Senators because I don't. The point is that if Republicans are going to elect Senators (and they do constitute around 50% of the voting public), I would prefer to have more Senators like Smith and fewer Senators like Frist, Craig and Cornyn. Not sure what this says about my progressive credentials, but I think it says I am in touch with reality, which many of my fellow progressives are not.

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    That's exactly where I was headed with my review of the article, BlueNote--if Smith has a conservative voting record, I believe it's largely based on his sense of fealty to GOP leadership, and not his own personal style. As you say, as a generality we don't consider Smith to be in that Santorum/Cornyn/Sensenbrenner mold, from a personal perspective. He's not a true believer, he's a good soldier. He wants to be loyal. And that was the reason for his "I've done what conservatives want" quote, IMO--he wants to appeal to the hard right by showing he's loyal, which is the quality Republicans prize more than any other, as far as I can tell.

  • j (unverified)

    Smith's biggest problem is his flip-flopping on amnesty. In his last election campaign, he stated he was against it and would vote against giving amnesty. Smith has maintained that position, and even now maintains the Senate bill he voted yes on, is not amnesty. American worker's wages would be negitively affected, as well as their taxes. It is to the Democratic base to decide whether amnesty is really in the interest of the value of American labor. Democrats, historically have upheld the value of all American labor. What does the base really think of their leadership on this issue.

    Democrats have an unprecedented opportunity to beat Smith, next election because Republicans are bitterly divided on amnesty and a significant number will not vote for Smith again.

    Yet, what kind of candidate will Democrats nominate. Will they nominate an open borders candidate, or will they take stalk of their blue collar workers, in all walks of life, and say: we value the worth of American labor and do not see how a flood of "guest workers" will help the supply and demand value of what has been one of our most sacred objects - blue collar and working class living standards.

  • (Show?)

    BlueNote - the better question is this: Is Gordon Smith better or worse than any of a kajillion Democrats that could run against him in 2008? I don't particularly care if he's better or worse than Bill Frist. He's not running against Frist.

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    Torrid -- I'm not sure he was talking about immigration. That's the context the Oregonian reported it, but the quote doesn't say anything about immigration.

  • (Show?)

    I tell you what... If you guys (Democrats) can nominate a reasonble Democrat to run against Smith there is a VERY good chance the conservative Republicans will let Smith twist in the wind.

    Smith lost me back when he lied to me at a Dorchester party about Interstate Light Rail. In his, oh so sincere, Smithsonian tone he said "Ted don't worry, there will be no federal dollars and that light rail line won't be built without Vancouver coming on board."

    Uh... Am I mistaken or is there not a light rail line going up Interstate right now?

    It was within months... maybe weeks?... after Gordon Smith told me that, that I found out he was out advocating for the line and, yes eventually did get the federal funding.

    So liberals can squawk about Smith all you want, but he is much more liberal than many Republican Senators.

    Someone draft Defazio?

    yip yip

  • (Show?)

    Kari--I'll grant it's not sure he was speaking only of immigration, but then by the same token it's not correct to assume he was speaking generally, and not only of immigration. Either way, then, his comment is not clear cut enough to make a plain statement.

  • Andy N. (unverified)

    Where have all the moderates gone? Don't think the R's are alone in this one. Check out this excellent observation that the late Sen Lloyd Bentsen wouldn't be survive as a D these days:


  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)

    I thought the fiction was that Gordon Smith was a conservative US Senator.

    Anyway, he showed his slimey nature to me when, as a senior state senator in 1996, he voted to use taxpayer dollars to build a light rail line on Portland (that's called representing greater Pendleton) in order to butter up Portlanders for his soon-to-be run for a US Senate seat. His ambition was more important than protecting his constituents' tax dollars.

    Bob Tiernan

  • nwpopulist (unverified)

    The best site for senators' ideological rankings is www.progressivepunch.org. It's pretty clear that there are only four "moderate" Republican senators, and Gordon Smith ain't one of them.

    As far as who our nominee should be in 2008, here's my take:

    If Kitzhaber doesn't run (and he probably won't), I think DeFazio would clearly be the next best choice. His populism will appeal to many independents and even conservatives. He has already demonstrated that by winning a predominantly rural district time after time.

    And how about Bill Bradbury for OR-4 if DeFazio tries to jump to the Senate?

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)

    It seems to me that Senator Smith has two problems: he's betrayed the far right and never appealed to the left. Unfortunately for us, he also has more money than God and a cagey political mind.

    Kitzhaber could beat him. Jeff Merkley would be an interesting candidate. I'm not sure about DeFazio. And I distrust Coyote's motives when he suggests DeFazio run. If DeFazio ever retires, it will be hard for us to hold onto his seat.

  • Deport Smith (unverified)

    If he's done "everything conservatives want" they why are they trying to throw him out over his amnesty vote?


  • josh (unverified)


    You are right about DeFazio's seat. The one waiting in the wings is DeFazio's own Mayor of Springfield, a republican and close friend. In fact even if Bradbury tried to run for the 4th CD seat, Sid Leiken would be beat him.

  • Keith (unverified)

    Sadly, like other gays and lesbians I bought into the fiction of Gordon Smith as moderate.

    In a Gay & Lesbian newsmagazine interview, Smith said he would never vote in favor of a Federal Marriage Amendment. Now the Senator - who was endorsed in the campaign by Judy Sheppard, Matthew Sheppard's mother as friendly to Lesbian and Gay civil rights - has changed his mind.

    On June 5th Gordon Smith is set to vote in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment. His staff told me it's because of his Mormon faith, apparently that faith doesn't cover saying one thing and doing another.

    Please call Smith at 202.224.3753, this is so important. If your marriage is important to you, I'm sure you can't imagine having your own senator vote to invalidate it.

  • (Show?)

    Keith--do you have a cite for that promise by Smith? It would be so much more effective if callers (and bloggers) can directly point to the promise made, when highlighting his intent to break it.

  • nwpopulist (unverified)

    Isn't a Senate seat a lot more important than DeFazio's House seat? If he's the best candidate, he should run. And it's far from a sure thing that a Republican would win in the 4th CD. A candidate like Bradbury would have appeal in Eugene and in his home turf along the coast.

  • Bill (unverified)

    Gordon Smith is no moderate. Fresh off a successful campaign to reduce the legal worth and value of gay and lesbian Oregonians with his vocal backing for Measure 36, the guy is now attacking us at the federal level, too.

    The Federal Marriage Amendment, which Smith supports, would scar the US Constitution - as Oregon's constitution is now scarred - by selectively eradicating a basic constitutional protection for gay and lesbian Americans. The US Supreme Court called marriage a "basic civil right" in 1967, when it struck down similar, religiously-inspired, mean-spirited state laws and amendments that prohibited interracial couples from tying the knot.

    Gordon Smith and his Republican party, saddled with a disastrous and unnecessary lie-based war in Iraq that has killed almost 2500 American soldiers, permanently disabled tens of thousands more, and killed over 100,000 Iraqi civilians, is understandably looking for distractions.

    But my family should not be his target - again. Though clearly we don't mean a lot to straight blue oregon liberals (hey - the guy's no Frist, he supports light rail, who cares about gay couples and their families anyway), we're nonetheless real, contributing Americans due the same basic constitutional protections that the Senator and too many others now take for granted.

    Please let Gordon Smith know that bashing gays and lesbians to boost his political standing with his religious "base" is not OK. Thanks & Cheers!

    PORTLAND OFFICE: (503) 326-3386 DC OFFICE: (202) 224-3753

    On a side note, the image of this guy crusading to reduce teen suicide, after the tragic loss of his son Garrett, is hypocrisy at its worst. According to the the American Psychological Association and other experts, gay teenagers are more likely to attempt suicide, and dealing with homosexuality in an unsupportive family, community or hostile school environment is a major risk factor. So gay-bashing - and amending state and federal constitutions to selectively diminish the legal worth and value of my family counts - probably doesn't help any struggling teens either.

  • Rachel (unverified)

    Smith vs. Kitzhaber - I'll take Smith

    Smith vs. Bradbury - I'll take Smith

    Smith vs. Kate Brown - I'll take Brown

    Smith vs. DeFazio - I'll take Smith

    Smith vs. Bob Tiernan - I'll take Smith

    Just the fact that Bob Tiernan is bashing him on BlueOregon for supporting mass transit burnishes his "moderate" credentials. My experience is Smith is thoughtful man - even on issues I don't agree with him on.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)

    Rachel said:

    Smith vs. Bob Tiernan - I'll take Smith

    Just the fact that Bob Tiernan is bashing him on BlueOregon for supporting mass transit burnishes his "moderate" credentials. My experience is Smith is thoughtful man - even on issues I don't agree with him on.

    It's not that I think he's supportive of a particular form of mass transit that is too expensive for the number of people who actually use it regularly in this area, bu that his support for the project in 1996 was extremely cynical and self-serving, designed to help boost his image in the Portland Metropolitan area, voting to toss his eastern Oregon constituents' tax dollars to Portland in order to get himself elected. That's politics at its worst.

    Bob Tiernan

in the news 2006

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