Smith '08: Neal Keny-Guyer?

In the Sunday Oregonian, columnist David Sarasohn wondered aloud if Democrats should be looking at nontraditional sources for candidates to run against Senator Gordon Smith.

But Democrats still need someone to run against Smith, and that's the problem. The list of Democrats declaring they're not interested has run from John Kitzhaber to Susan Castillo to David Wu, despite his strength with the Klingon vote. Earl Blumenauer is said to be thinking about it, but he thinks about a lot of things. So maybe Democrats should be thinking about somebody unexpected.

NealkenyguyerWho, exactly? Sarasohn suggests looking to the world of nonprofit leaders:

Somebody like, say, Neal Keny-Guyer, who for the last 13 years has been chief executive officer of Mercy Corps, the Portland-based international aid group, quadrupling its size to a $200 million budget and 3,200 employees -- someone not directly in politics but with a powerful foreign affairs background. Between Mercy Corps and an earlier nine years with Save the Children, he's been to about 40 countries -- although, he notes, "probably not your usual tourist destinations."

After all, a bunch of the fresh faces in 2006 didn't come from the world of political ladder-climbers:

As prominent Democratic campaigners keep renouncing next year's race for the Senate, the party might usefully look for a political outsider, someone who has not yet learned to speak in 30-second sound bites or addressed a hundred rubber-chicken dinners. ...

Democrats now control the Senate, after all, because of a Virginia candidate, Jim Webb, who'd never run for office before but had his own foreign policy qualifications -- qualifications that actually turned into fundraising capacity. Democrats now control the House because of a range of outsiders, from a peace activist to New Hampshire to a retired NFL quarterback in North Carolina to an alternative newspaper publisher in Kentucky.

Read the rest.

For more about Neal Keny-Guyer, read his op-ed in today's Oregonian (about New Orleans), see his bio at Mercy Corps.


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