Merkley: "Change. It's coming."

Tonight, Jeff Merkley launched his campaign for the U.S. Senate - and kicked off a three-day tour of Western Oregon.

Merkley1_3From the O:

Former Gov. Barbara Roberts, House Speaker Pro Tem Diane Rosenbaum and Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams took turns warming up the crowd and praising Merkley. The candidate himself arrived in a big RV that had been turned into a gigantic Merkley for Senate sign. "Change. It's coming," the sign announced. ...

His speech was heavy with carefully crafted lines about wanting to create opportunity for all, as opposed to "Bush-Smith opportunism" for the few. In fact, Merkley frequently paired Smith and President Bush, and he insisted the senator almost always backed the politically unpopular president on legislation. "We have a lot of Bush-Smith handiwork to undo," Merkley said.

In promoting himself, Merkley leaned heavily on the legislative output of the last session, mentioning bills to promote renewable energy, crack down on payday loans and create a reserve fund for schools. Merkley pledged to fight for universal health care, something he said Smith would not do.

When Smith nears the Senate chambers, "he sees doors to a club with a lot of rich and powerful people," said Merkley, adding that he himself would see them as "doors to creating opportunity for every American family."

Over at Beaver Boundary, blogger Taoiseach has a more personal take on the event - plus photos!

The speech by Merkley, presumably one of his first as a Senate candidate, roused the audience to the usual levels of cheering and sign-waving that you’d expect from a candidate in mid-July of the election year. He made it clear that Oregon’s representation in the Senate is essentially nullified–94% of the time Senator Ron Wyden casts a progressive vote, Senator Smith cancels it out by voting the other way. On trade issues, labor issues, environmental issues, protection of civil liberties, fair taxation, universal health care, it’s true that Wyden leads Oregon and the nation forward in the Senate while Smith drags his weight behind in resistance to change. And it’s time to cut the dead weight and move forward.

Were you there? What did you think? Discuss.

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    I went to the kick off with 9 other Willamette University College Democrats, and boy despite the hour drive each way from Salem it was worth it. Jeff's speech was inspiring, especially when he talked about his father and how his fathers values inspired his life and his service. If Merkley can take his speech tonight across Oregon on the stump, he is going to wipe the floor with both Novick and Smith.

    Another thing that was really nice to see was the diversity in the crowd. There were clearly a lot of movers and shakers in Oregon politics, but there were also a bunch of young people that were really excited about the campaign. I think expanding beyond being an niche politician and engaging broader coalitions is something that our Democratic nominee is going to have to do to beat Smith and Jeff really showed that tonight.

    I can't wait till Wednesday when Speaker Merkley brings his Western Oregon tour to Salem.

  • Jamal Raad (unverified)

    Wow. Tonight I saw the next Junior Senator from Oregon. Jeff spoke from his heart about what kind of man he is and what he stands for. It's going to be a tough but rewarding 14 months until we boot Gordon Smith out of office.

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    I went to the kick-off tonight. There were definitely many movers and shakers there, but I too noticed the range of folks. Merkley did mention Smith and Bush together quite a bit, but it wasn't simply a bash-them speech. He kept it tied to taking the progress and values represented here in Oregon and applying them nationally. I was also glad to see that education is still a key issue for him, and it definitely resonated with the crowd when he spoke about it. Behind John Edwards, Merkley is the first candidate that I've ever felt strongly enough about to not just support, but actively work for. I look forward to it.

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)

    I'm a big Novick supporter generally, but this week I'm wishing Merkley the best. It's Stanford-Oregon week, and when it's over, Novick and his Ducks are going down to the Cardinal.

    Bet him, Jeff (just demand the points). Under Harbaugh, the Cardinal are on the road back! Ask San Jose State.

    As for the substance of this thread, I'm less interested in solo appearances than the opportunity for Merkley and Novick to appear together, make their own cases, and allow the Democrats of Oregon to decide who is more "inspiring" of the two to use the word of one of the commenters). May the most inspiring candidate win.

    This Saturday, though, I want Merkley to win regardless of how inspiring he is.

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    Can we please leave the college football out of this? It is silly. Merkley and Novick should be the clash of two good Democrats not analysis of a running joke that was never funny or appropriate in the first place. Beaver Boundary has a really good post on the ridiculous mascot logic of Novick

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    Bradley, TMOT, you don't want to stir that pot up again.

    Sitting senators, governors, and even mayors enter into silly wagers on locally relevant sports events ALL THE TIME. The fact that you are so bent out of shape about it says more about you than it does about anyone else. Let it go.

  • James X. (unverified)

    I agree with both Bradley and Stephanie. I personally find it a bit annoying, but it's also a tradition. Remember this? There's even a blog dedicated to it.

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    Unfortunately I could not make the kick-off event (schedule conflict between work running long and the need to be in Beaverton at 7 for the Washington County Democratic Party IT Committee meeting). I hope more people who attended can post their impressions and take on the event (as well as the other stops scheduled for today).

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    My co-geek lestatdelc on the IT Committee forgot the obligatory plug Rookie mistake, I'm sure it won't happen again, right? Shamelss Glen

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    I attended the kick-off last night. Jeff's speech has a lot of potential, but certainly needs polishing. Let's hope he uses this tour to hone it to give himself a better chance against Smith. Overall, I felt great energy around his campaign at the event and can really see him as the next Senator from Oregon.

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)


    You call my post "silly" (Mon Dieu!); I call it playful. I'm a Stanford guy who has been in Novick's camp but finally has an opportunity to say "go Merkley." So I had some fun with that. Somehow, though, that put you off.

    If you must know, Novick's "ridiculous mascot logic" is just a wholesome way to have a little fun with politics. It helps explain why he is such a breath of fresh air in this arena. If you want more people involved in the political process, we need political leaders who aren't merely policy wonks but also know how to lighten up when the times call for a little levity. Responding to the Governor's endorsement by saying that, as a U. of O grad, it was just "water off a duck's back" was funny. Nothing more and nothing less.

    Perhaps Novick's secret -- perhaps the reason why he inspires so many -- is because he knows how to enjoy the heck out of politics while remaining so substantive. Please don't underestimate the importance of that former quality, or the importance of "silliness" in making politics fun. We have enough wet blankets in Washington. Oregon would be well served to send someone who can provide an antidote to that ailment.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)

    Can we please leave the college football out of this? It is silly.

    Bradley, thanks for parroting "Beaver Boundary's" talking points memo. I used to think Blue0 needed more cowbell, but i can clearly see we need more Beaver. And speaking of Mandate's love affair with the green isle leader, does the Merkley Machine really need a Jeff Gannon (replete with pom poms and exclamation marks) to toss off softballs and act as Blue0's dutiful echo chamber?

    <h2>And speaking of Ducks and softball... when will Merkley end his strategy of dodgeball and ducking debates with Novick. How long does it take to poll test the issues?</h2>
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