Smith '08: DeFazio or Gardner?

From the Portland Tribune:

Despite Republican U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith’s recent attempt to cast himself as the second coming of GOP peacenik Mark Hatfield on Iraq, he’s going to be more vulnerable than ever if he runs for re-election in 2008.

And Democrats, emboldened by their recent electoral tidal wave, have been mulling who will run against Smith. Sources Say has heard authoritatively that U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., was under pressure to do so — but we doubt he’ll leave his safe seat.

Former Gov. John Kitzhaber has ruled out a run, causing Democratic bloggers to raise unlikely names such as state Sen. Ben Westlund and Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard.

But Sources Say thinks two others are more probable: U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Eugene, and — Sources Say’s bet for most likely — Oregon Labor Commissioner Dan Gardner.


  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    I think that DeFazio is the one Demcorat who might be able to beat Smith. TIme and again his populist messgae has won over voters in a district that is largely rural and increasingly Republican. However, DeFazio would be outspent heavily and by all accounts he hates fundraising. I noticed that The Washington Post profiled about 10 Senate races in play for '08 and Oregon wasn't one of them.

  • Aaron (unverified)

    Personally, I think that there are more important races to deal with. IMO these are the order that we should focus on: 1) POTUS 2) SOS 3) AG 4) State Tres 5) Senate District 25 with its House Districts under it equally 6) Senate District 3 with its House Districts under it equally 7) Senate District 5 with its House Districts under it equally 8) then US Senate race

    For Multnomah residents only County Commissoner seat that Lonnie Roberts sits in.

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    Gardner? He'll ge eaten for lunch. If DeFazio wants to give up his hard earned senority in the House, he'd better consider really serious fundraising.

  • greenbean (unverified)

    Hard to see Defazio giving up that prize Transportation chairmanship he waited so long for...

  • LT (unverified)

    With all due respect, this is Christmas 2006, and we don't need to decide this right away.

    Seems to me that setting paramaters for a successful Senate campaign would be smarter now than trying to guess which person wants to run and has the support. If someone is thinking of running but the DSCC is lukewarm, saying that person should run and devote the next 2 years to fundraising because nothing else matters does not seem to me to be the way to success. Compiling a good voting record seems more intelligent to me.

    Having lived through a few Senate primaries, I'd suggest the following:

    1) If there is anyone who can generate Obama-like enthusiasm and is willing to run for US Senate, that person deserves a shot at the nomination.

    2) If there are people in the legislature (where Gordon Smith came from) or elsewhere who have good issues to run on or excellent fundraising ability, they should have a shot at the nomination. Nothing wrong with a primary between multiple candidates who can discuss issues and let voters make their own decisions. Divisive primaries of the "I'm best, I've got the money, what do you mean you want to know where I stand on issues--I'm better than the other candidates and that is all you need to know" variety should be avoided!

    3) Let's remember how Gordon got to the US Senate. He ran an arrogant "we're all real tired of career politicians" one-way campaign where the attitude was that if the commercials were inflicted on TV viewers often enough he would win. He lost that election to Ron Wyden in January, 1996. Second time around he ran a campaign which included more dialogue with voters, was quicker on the uptake (my opponent doesn't want anyone to photograph his house? we'll invite the reporters and photographers in to take a guided tour of our house), and whatever else anyone thought of him there was the "truth in labeling" idea that he had a voting record--like it or not you knew where he stood. His opponent had never held public office and had an allergy to discussing actual issues or legislation.

    In 1996 DSCC inflicted Kerrey Millionaires (Bob Kerrey was DSCC chair at the time) who unlike Sherrod Brown and the other DSCC picks of 2006 were in many cases just businessmen running for their first elective office. These were inflicted on several states incl. Oregon where we had 3 other candidates with political experience and the ability to discuss issues but were hugely outspent. That gimmick didn't work--all it did was to cause lots of voters to bail out and vote 3rd party. Gordon was elected by a number smaller than the number of 3rd party votes (As was Ron in Jan. 1996).

    So let's set the ground rules now and worry about who the candidate is later. Think about what tactics work and which tactics don't work (does Ted's "I'm running against 2 Republicans" swipe at Westlund from last summer look all that intelligent now that Ben is a Democrat?). Realize that the voters who will actually decide the 2008 elections are now more concerned about whether they have bought the right holiday present, the logistics of Christmas dinner, if bad weather will make life difficult for relatives arriving from out of state than they are about any candidate in 2008. As a friend said when she dropped out of politics after decades of involvement, 5% of the population are political junkies who think they decide elections, but elections are decided by the 95% of the electorate who generally think about politics only in the months leading up to elections.

    And whoever runs should have a well managed campaign, not one where volunteers are worried about the quality of the campaign or things that should get done don't get done. A successful campaign needs an exciting candidate, a clear message which people discuss with their friends, money, organization, and the ability to attract volunteers.

    Telling people that a candidate who lacks some/most of those criteria (as with TB who ran against Gordon 10 years ago)is the Democratic nominee and everyone should give their unquestiong support will not win even if every Democrat in the state votes for that person. There are so many who do not register with major parties and they decide many elections.

  • Mungen_Cakes (unverified)

    1) Obama-like enthusiasm. Check. 2) Good issues to run on. Check. 3) Not considered an insider. Check.

    Hello Senator Chisholm!

  • (Show?)

    As someone intimatley aware of what it is like to lose to Smith I cannot emphasize enough that the key is to define oneself early against him. Cause he will go up early to define you and Smith has no qualms about going negative early and often.

    I love Dan but he does not match up well against Smith.

    It's a shame that my old boss Bradbury lost my such a large margin in 02 cause Bill is actually a hell of a candidate but 02 was just a brutal year (we actually announced a month after 9/11)

    Blum and Defazio are not going to leave now after all those years in the minority.

    So we need to look farther afield. What about Keisling? What about Furse? How about Stein? Just throwing names out there to see what sticks....the bench is thin folks...where is Aucoin these days?

  • E. Furse (unverified)

    [Faked, insulting comment deleted. -editor]

  • Dan Gardner (unverified)

    Well thanks Paulie I would get eaten for lunch how sweet and Jeremy im not a good matchup. First of all i have no intention of running for us senate at this Time if i did no one would eat me for lunch bet on it.

    I enjoy being labor commissioner and at the moment an totaly concentrated on my job.

    While I believe Smith is very vulnerable given many of his votes and even born again votes. The control of who can win rests in who can compete in the world of raising 9-10 million.

    Since under fec rules it is impossible for any challenger to raise this on thier own. It is all up to the dscc who can come in with large dollars to compete. The danger is any candidate wouldnt know till august or september if they will or not.

    If they do you have a chance to compete if not they hung out to dry like Bill Bradbury did last time who would do that to themselves given that history.

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    Given the fact Mr. Gardner has said he's not interested (and I respect him for being clear on that) obviously we're down to again talking about just DeFazio. Personally I'm not comfortable with him running. My feeling is he does not have the dynamic personality needed to beat Smith.

    As other people pointed out, he may not be willing to give up his position to risk running against Smith. And this is a fact, it is a risk. If he were to run and win, that's great. But if he lost, he (along with the people of Oregon) would have given up seniority in the House for nothing. That's something to chew on.

    I agree with LT, it's too early to anoint anyone. Certainly it would be better of a couple of good candidates would get in the ring. The Democratic Party has had a bit of group think in choosing the last two candidates to run against Smith (I also tend to agree 2002 was a tough year as was 2004). I'd like to see someone with a verifiable pulse run against Smith.

    In terms of the names being thrown around now, I'm not too enthusiastic about them.

  • (Show?)

    I don't think we're "down" to just DeFazio. I'd still hope that Earl Blumenauer, Ben Westlund, Randy Leonard, Darlene Hooley, David Wu, and some legislators would consider the race.

    Peter DeFazio would be a great candidate, but he's not the only one left.

    By my count, only John Kitzhaber and Dan Gardner have ruled themselves out. (And Dan uses the slippery phrase "no intention")

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    I don't think Dan Gardner would get eaten for lunch, he's got much of what it takes including an engaging presence. Interest is obviously a question.

    One thing that I don't believe should be taken for granted is the race being won or lost on the Westside, I believe numbers from OR 02 CD will be a make or break, that's not to say the CD would go Democratic, but good numbers would be required. Something to consider.

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)

    Jeez, did Dan Gardner really write the comments posted under his name? And if so, after how many scotches? It's filled with a stunning disregard of grammer, sentence structure and proper punctuation.

  • Dan Gardner (unverified)

    Gil First of all I dont drink Im home with acold and the flu.

    Its an email blog not a formal letter get over it.

    Grading someones sentence structure pleasee!!!!!!!

  • Frank Carper (unverified)

    Hey Gil, before you criticize someone's "grammer" try learning how to at least spell g-r-a-m-m-a-r.

    I agree with Kari; there are plenty of strong candidates out there and a grassroots sense that the right campaign can replace Smith with someone who better represents our state.

  • James (unverified)

    Since when does the Tribune get to decide whether Blumenauer's interested or not? Unlike Kitz, I've never heard him say not, only that he doesn't want to think about it until 2007.

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    I meant in terms of this thread (which was about DeFazio and Gardner running) we were left discussing DeFazio since Mr. Gardner has stated he's not interested.

    I think Blumenauer would have a decent chance. I don't know much about Westlund other then what was said during the short time he was running for governor. In terms of Wu and Hooley I have mixed feelings. The 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts could become battleground areas if either one of them decided to run against Smith. Again, I'm not sure about seeing one of them risk losing the Congressional District they are in return for challanging Smith.

    Yes, there are lots of other choices but it's still too early for someone to declare they are running.

  • (Show?)


    I hope you understand what I wrote in terms of match-up. Basically you and I were on the same page.

    It's all about national perception and $$ in Senate races.

    First and foremost beating Smith is all about the DSCC and you hit the nail on the head. They will string you along until they need to make a money decision and if you are not within 4-7 points a month out than goodbye.

    I personally think that the DSCC makes up their minds a year out about who they are going to put $$$ into. in 02 they wnated Kitz and immediately downgraded the race when he did not run regardless of circumstances on the ground.

    Smith CAN be beaten given the proper resources but the DSCC has a specific narrative in their head about this race and others and I am afraid that they don't think statewide electeds like you or Bill or Randall fit that narrative whether it is true or not.

    On the other hand having said all that it IS a new era and you could run anyway, we will support you and prove them wrong. That's what the netroots is all about right?

    Take care, Jeremy

  • LT (unverified)

    Jeremy, you hit the nail on the head about DSCC. I don't trust them (or DCCC ) to understand Oregon.

    But my pet peeve is that to most of the world, the Sec. of State and State Treasurer are ELECTED OFFICIALS. Although DSCC staff probably use that term.

    If anyone can put together a campaign which doesn't depend entirely on DSCC that would be the candidate to back as long as that person is willing to talk issues and not just demand votes as an entitlement.

    Maybe there should be research into how Tester in 2006 and Salazar in 2004 won in what were supposed to be Republican states. Also, how did an Oregon Senate President get elected to federal office 10 years ago when as many legislators (or more) have failed to make it to that next level as have succeeded ?

    And I think DeFazio may a) want to stay where he is b) may not trust DSCC given the history and the truth of what Jeremy said.

  • (Show?)

    Maybe there should be research into how Tester in 2006 and Salazar in 2004 won in what were supposed to be Republican states.

    I got a whole blog about that. C'mon over.

  • (Show?)

    I interviewed several state reps in Colorado and Montana on campaign strategy prior to running for the HD24 seat.

    I've been meaning to write an article on that for quite some time...

  • DAN GRADY (unverified)


    Is Bill Bradbury a key member, and volunteer at the Bus Project? Is Bill Bradbury at every grassroots Democratic event whether cameras are there or not??

    Is Bill Bradbury the man the stands against the tsunami of Republican accusations of bias, if not collusion, only to come out unscathed and with his ethics impeccable??

    Is Bill Bradbury the man that has pioneered if not nurtured the “vote by mail” successes that makes him a national candidate for a nation hungry for fair elections?? A candidate with a redi-made national issue to highlight, and impeccable credentials to offer!!!

    Is Bill Bradbury the man that debunked the Republican Rhetoric and put up a good campaign without money from the DLC??? I say who needs them? The idea would be to show a broad base of support and begin a truly effective grassroots campaign that attracts the “Johnny-Come-Lately” money of the DLC and DNC!! Make them want to be part of our campaign, instead of a pauper’s plea for their help, make them come to us!!

    If the Democratic Candidate is to come forth with little national party assistance, why would the party overlook ready made rebuttals from the last race to make ready made ads for the simplest minds to grasp!! The contrast of the Smith of ’02 and the Smith of ’08 would be a simple thing to do with Bradbury on the ticket.

    A Westlund campaign in my opinion, and please Thom Hartman forgive me, is that Westlund is Republican enough for the DLC to get behind from the beginning which could likely leave our candidate difficult to support as a Democrat for many in the Oregon Democratic Party. I know this is true of Multnomah County, and does anyone think a divide Democratic vote in Multnomah County will serve to elect a Democrat??

    I renew my support for a Bill Bradbury for the Democratic Candidate for the U.S. Senate as our best bet by far for victory, and let’s not be convoluted to believe that there is any greater priority in ’08. I believe that Mr. Bradbury is truly a progressive that requires no compromise on the imperative for victory!

    Happy Thoughts;

    Dan Grady

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    We're all talking about well known office holders like DeFazio, but don't forget what happened in 1990. Hatfield seemed unbeatable and Wyden, AucCoin, DeFazio, ect... didn't run. A self financed unknown by the name of Harry Lonsdale had a good message and media camapign, and in early Oct. was suddenly even with or even ahead of Hatfield. Hatfiled decided to camapign, and ended up winning narrowly. Brugerre was another rich unknown who came close (although I think DeFazio would have been stronger that year.) Obviously, it will take a lot of money to defeat Smith, and probably only a wealthy candidiate can have a chance of defeating him.

  • DAN GRADY (unverified)

    Money!! That's it, Money!!

    I firmly believe that a tide has turned for the time being!! I believe next year will be the "Real Watershed" year for Democrats.

    A 6 year abandonment from oversight is not a typical thing, listening to Republican howls as they attempt to drown out their disasterous leadership as it becomes a daily splash on our newspapers is going to erode Republican standing, and make Republican warchests effect in the elections of '08 minimial.

    Those who jump out in front of this trend will be rewarded with success at a discount!!

  • anon (unverified)

    I just wanted to take exception to the line in the lead article from the Portland Tribune that said that Smith was now trying to portray himself as a peacenik. Not so! You have to read on Smith's website the speech he gave on the Senate floor. He did not call the Iraq war "criminal" or "ludicrous." Those are the words he used to describe Bush's "hold the course" policy. Actually, Smith said that he supports the escalation policy which John McCain has been advocating - even more US troops in Iraq. Ironically, he gets labeled as a peacenik for being more of a warhawk than Bush or Rumsfeld!

    Admittedly, there is a lot of doubletalk in his speech. Like McCain, Smith says he wants to just get up and get out of Iraq - but only if we don't take the course which he prefers: which is to escalate.

    Am I misreading what he said? I don't think so. Here is where you can read his speech for yourself.

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