Wyden will definitely campaign for Dem nominee in 2008

There's been quite a blog dust-up in recent days, all kicked off by a comment that Wyden chief-of-staff Josh Kardon made to the Bend Bulletin:

"Just as Sen. Smith has supported the Republican nominee in both of his last two races, Sen. Wyden will support the Democratic nominee for 2008, but he won't campaign against Gordon, and he will continue to work with Sen. Smith on the state's behalf for the next two years," Kardon said.

MyDD's Matt Stoller criticized Senator Wyden for seeming to distance himself from campaigning in 2008. Our own Kari Chisholm tried to clarify things with his own MyDD diary. Stoller proferred a retort, etc.

Now, Josh Kardon himself has clarified his comments - in a post over at MyDD. (The bold is our emphasis.)

Forty-nine words out of an interview that ran for many thousands of words has led to some spirited questions and debate, as well as some off-the-mark speculation and assumptions. I'm not without fault in this blog kerfuffle, particularly because I'm generally pretty reluctant to join in on the blogging fun. So please allow me to set the record straight and say exactly what I mean regarding the Oregon '08 Senate race.

I want there to be no ambiguity about this - if Peter DeFazio enters the race, Ron Wyden will campaign hard for him. Peter would be a great candidate, but so would Earl Blumenauer, Steve Novick, and many others. Come election time, you will see strong support from Ron regardless of the Democratic nominee.

Yes, Ron and Senator Smith have a good working relationship, and they appear at joint town meetings every two years and produce a bipartisan Oregon agenda every two years. This has been the case for over a decade, despite the fact that they know that at election time, they're on very different teams. For instance, Senator Smith was the only politician who maxed out in his federal contribution to Senator Wyden's 2004 opponent.

The only point I was attempting to make with the Bend Bulletin reporter was that Ron won't go negative on Senator Smith, but that's hardly news or indicative of his commitment as a Democrat. Senator Wyden won't go negative on anyone.

In the middle of his race against Senator Smith in 1996, Ron decided to pull all negative ads and negative materials out of circulation, and he ran a 100% positive campaign for the duration of the campaign. He has continued this practice in every race since, even when his opponents were being quite negative.

As Ron won't go negative against his own opponents, he's certainly not going to do it on someone else's behalf. That is the job of the nominee and his or her surrogates. Once it is campaign time, however, it will be Ron's job - in a positive fashion and as a proud Democrat -- to help ensure that Sen. Harry Reid remains Majority Leader for many years to come.


  • LT (unverified)

    If the truth is that Ron will campaign for the nominee--"vote for -----, the Democratic nominee, " but won't do the kind of slash and burn attack so many people hate ("in Jan, 1996, Gordon Smith ran ads saying we're all real tired of career politicians. At what point does he become a career politician?" ---or worse) that is smart.

    Count me among those who have believed for 11 years now that we would not be talking about US Senator Wyden had he not gone 100% positive. As much as consultants and some others love those attack ads, I still recall how much support that down to earth woman who was a third party candidate that January got among people I know because "she's a real person,just like us" and people refusing to return their January ballots because the whole process just got too nasty. If you doubt my view, look at Ron's victory margin over Gordon, then look at the 3rd party vote. People voted 3rd party to express their disgust at how the major party candidates behaved.

    As I recall, at one of the first joint town hall meetings, either Ron or Gordon said they started doing them "in pennance for what they had put Oregonians thru--some people just quit watching TV until the election was over".

  • Jesse B. (unverified)

    A dust-up for sure. I'm glad we got this helpful bit of information out of it. Makes me feel better about taking this seat next year.

  • talapus pete (unverified)

    I am essentially a life-long Demo. I first voted Kennnedy v. Nixon. I don't like saying this, but I think the Demos have surrendered any claim to being stand-up for much of anything. I would no more by a used car from Ron Wyden than a war from George Bush.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)

    Hey, Pete. I feel your disillusion. I'm not fishing here, but you seem really sour on Wyden. He had already gone from the House to the Senate by the time i moved to Portland. Except for his annoying form of oratory ("I thinkduh, that weuh should move forwarduh...") i have no real impression of him. It could be that he doesn't flaunt his achievements?

    I think you represent a large and important constituency. How could Wyden represent you better? I'd be interested in any nonvitriolic specifics.

  • Chris Andersen (unverified)

    I hope that Kardon has learned a lesson from this: words matter.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    I am not Wyden's biggest fan, but my fellow progressives need to return to the real world for a few minutes. Wyden is 1 vote in a chamber of 100, in which the Dems hold a tiny majority. Given the procedural rules of the Senate, Wyden needs to work with Repubs every day if he has any chance of advancing any of his ideas or agendas. He will not be effective for Oregon or the US if he makes defeating Gordo his top (or even top 10) priority. The dirty work of politics is best done by those who do not hold office and who do not need to be effective in working "within the system".

    PS - where is the outrage regarding the Dem House leadership suggestion last night that the Iraq war funding bill deadline be converted into an "advisory only" provision. If you want to talk about spineless Dem politicians, there is a topic I would like to see explored.

  • (Show?)

    It could be that he doesn't flaunt his achievements?

    East Bank Thom (and thanks for that), I invite you to come check out Stand Tall for America, the new site that Senator Wyden launched this spring to promote his ambitious policy agenda.

    There is news about health care, tax reform, net neutrality and critical Oregon issues posted there just about every day.

    (Full disclosure - my company manages that site for him.)

  • (Show?)

    I took a stab at Kardon's original comments a couple of days ago, and I don't think he's fixed much here. My strong worry is that his support of a Democrat will not involve any substantive comparison with the Republican currently holding office, with any attempt to hold the latter to account for the grave situation our country faces.

    Remember what happened in 2006--Wyden pledged support for Lamont, then stood by virtually silent as a non-Democrat lied and slandered his way to re-election. You can't truly support someone for office without explaining why the current person needs to go, and based on this clarifying paen to limp comity and tradition-bound public forgiveness of sins, I'm not encouraged about how he will approach 2008.

  • Thomas Ware (unverified)

    Does Matt Stoller live in Oregon? If not, and I think not, I suggest he mind his own damned business. Ain't nothin' east of The Rockies we need.

  • Val (unverified)

    I took a stab at Kardon's original comments a couple of days ago, and I don't think he's fixed much here. My strong worry is that his support of a Democrat will not involve any substantive comparison with the Republican currently holding office, with any attempt to hold the latter to account for the grave situation our country faces.

    What are you talking about? In terms of substantive support of Democrats running for office and fighting the fight against Republicans at the ballot box (or mailbox as the case may be), Sen. Ron Wyden is the clear leader in this State. Although he has not and will not resort to the type of negative tactics that we unfortunately have had to become accustomed to, he has tirelessly campaigned and helped fundraise for Democrats running for office in the State of Oregon since he has been in a position to do so.

    In '04 he helped raise nearly a million dollars for Oregon Democratics and put substantial time into supporting our local candidates as well as the Presidential race. I can speak to his effort in the '06 Lane County races. Sen. Ron Wyden's support was critical to our adding 2 House seats and keeping Senator Vicki Walker in office. Sen. Wyden's Chief of Staff, Josh Kardon, even took time off from his work with the Senator in this last election cycle to help head up Ted Kulongoski's re-election campaign. The fact is when Democrats in Oregon needed help running against Republicans, Sen. Wyden has been in our corner 100%. I have no doubt that he will continue to take the lead in the fight to increase the Democratic majorities in both the Federal and State legislatures.

    There may be policy differences that some people have with the Senator but to try and paint Wyden as weak in terms of stepping up to help Oregon Democrats campaign against Republicans is just plain wrong and defies his proven record.


  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    Josh Karden is a smart able guy, I've spent some time with him, and some of it I wasn't being very agreeable, what I got from him was honest and straightforward, though some of it was not in his own favor. I am not personally acquainted with Sen Wyden, but chief's of staff are generally a reflection of their boss, I like Karden.

  • Neal Patel (unverified)

    I lived in New York when we had Moynihan- a Democrat who was the public public wonk. and D'Amato- a Republican- constituent service type Senator who dealt with pariochal issues. Moynihan and D'Amato both gotten along. even during D'Amato's losing race to Chuck Schumer. Moynihan did not campaign against D'Amato.


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