Oregonian profile and 3rd TV spot highlight Merkley biography

The Jeff Merkley for U.S. Senate campaign released its third TV spot today -- focused on jobs, trade, and wasteful bailouts for oil companies. It opens with biography - and draws an explicit contrast with Gordon Smith.

Also today, the Oregonian published a lengthy biographical profile of Jeff Merkley today, "some of which sounds as if it could have been written for a Steven Spielberg movie.":

In his mid-20s, Jeff Merkley hopped a bus with a friend in Los Angeles and headed south for what would become a hairy, life-changing journey through revolution-torn Central America.

The 1980 trip, which included a tense ride with a group of armed Nicaraguan soldiers, reached its climax in Guatemala City.

"I stumbled across a person who had just been assassinated," Merkley recalls. "I mean, literally, I was the first person after the man was shot down on the street. . . . I rushed up because I thought he had been hit by a car. His whole torso had been blown away."

It wouldn't be the last encounter with guns and violence for Merkley...

Read the rest.

  • verasoie (unverified)

    A very positive ad, and one that takes the right tack by focusing on Jeff's accomplishments, biography, and overall winning strategy-- contrasting his vision for Oregon with Smith's.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)

    That's a good ad.

  • Dylan (unverified)

    I really like Merkley. It will pain me to vote against him, but my chief goal is to beat Gordon Smith. I just think Merkley is a little too vanilla (ala Bruggere, Bradbury) to defeat the slick and well funded Gordo. Novick is different enough that he may be able to do something other than repeating the painful losses we suffered in 1996 and 2002.

  • Confused (unverified)

    Can somebody explain WTF the "explicit contrast" actually is? I normally appreciate explicit things, but I don't get this at all.

  • (Show?)

    Explicit. As opposed to implicit.

  • (Show?)

    Merkley speaks for himself, finally! Still another dead fucking boring ad, though. And what's with all the pictures of him frowning? He doesn't smile ONE TIME in the ad, and all the shots have that trademark furrowed brow.

    Jeff thinks the race doesn't start until TV ads run...but it looks to me like he's still waitng. Does he really think this will somehow break through all the Obama and Clinton and NOVICK and Brown and Kroger and Macpherson and Sam Adams ads over the next two weeks?

    For the other commenter, the "explicit contrast" between Merkley and Gordon is apparently where they grew up, or what their fathers did, or something.

  • (Show?)

    I have it on good authority that Gordon Smith's dad was not a millworker.

  • no name (unverified)

    workhorse vs. showhorse

  • (Show?)

    all the shots have that trademark furrowed brow.

    Well, if it's a trademark, you gotta use it!

  • emily george (unverified)

    Dylan writes:

    I really like Merkley. It will pain me to vote against him, but my chief goal is to beat Gordon Smith. I just think Merkley is a little too vanilla (ala Bruggere, Bradbury) to defeat the slick and well funded Gordo. Novick is different enough that he may be able to do something other than repeating the painful losses we suffered in 1996 and 2002.

    For the life of me, I don't get this argument, which I keep hearing. It's one of those statements that seems clever until you ask if there's any historical data supporting it. Wyden is as vanilla as Merkely and he beat Smith. You look at the winning US Senate candidates for Democrats who unseated incumbents around the country in 2006 and they're incredibly vanilla -- have you seen Bob Casey in Pennsylvania or Claire McCaskill in Missouri, or Sheldon Whitehouse in Rhode Island? Of the six challengers who beat incumbents all except Jim Webb have biographies and styles that are a whole lot more like Merkley's than Novick's. And Webb wouldn't have won if George Allen didn't have his maccaca moment.

    As somebody who's looked at what type of candidates win US Senate races, Jeff Merkley looks like the clearly superior candidate if the goal is to back the primary candidate who will most likely beat Gordon Smith.

    And while many people think this, his third ad, is conventional, there's a reason ads of a particular type become conventional -- they work with the uninformed swing voters who decide most elections.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    At least they got some light on Jeff's eyes in the video. Too bad they could not find stills without shadowed eyes. Sorry to sound like a broken record, but this stuff counts. People react emotionally to images of faces. Ads need to make the candidate look friendly, kind, intelligent [if the candidate's a Democrat] and trustworthy. Eyes are an important part of that.

  • JHL (unverified)

    Can somebody explain WTF the "explicit contrast" actually is?

    Doesn't matter. He's contrasting himself against Gordon Smith as opposed to Steve Novick. He's betting that Gordo's negatives are stronger than Steve's positives, and I think it's a winning strategy for this primary. Merkley is forcibly taking back the frontrunner status by pitting himself against Smith while Novick is attacking Merkley and looking like the challenger.

    That's the kind of disciplined message judo that's going to beat Smith.

  • (Show?)

    Sorry to sound like a broken record, but this stuff counts.

    Well, taking my cue from Emily George's very well-informed comment... Novick isn't the only one in the race with big-name talent in charge of the advertising. Merkley does too and I rather suspect they know what they are doing.

    If it helps... I was an extra in one of their shoots - clips of which are in Merkley's first ad as well as this one - and I can tell you that both the director and the still photographer were very adamant about how each and every shot was framed, what kind of lighting they wanted and all the rest of that stuff. They had a full crew on hand with all of the usual professional equipment used in these sorts of things.

    If there are shadows then it's deliberate. Debate the merits of that at will, but every inch of every shot was set up and recorded by pros.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)


    I don't think looking past your primary opponent is the same as "forcibly taking back the frontrunner status." But, then, I'm all for an ad that doesn't attack another Democrat.

  • (Show?)

    "If there are shadows then it's deliberate. Debate the merits of that at will, but every inch of every shot was set up and recorded by pros."

    D- for comprehension. The first thing Tom says is that the light in the FILMED PORTION was fine. It's the stills--which the "pros" did not shoot, likely--that are the problem.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)


    I don't doubt that Merkley's campaign uses well-paid professionals to produce its media content. My contention is that they have not earned their money. If Jeff wins the primary, I'd hate to see his general election campaign wrecked by lousy media. Look at Jeff's Voters Pamphlet photo. Look at the web video piece from an earlier BlueOregon post. Merkley's campaign visuals are consistently poor. Repeat:

    A picture is worth a thousand words. A picture is worth a thousand words. A picture is worth a thousand words.

  • (Show?)

    Tom, take your own advice and tell us what you mean in 2.1% of a picture!


  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)


    You did a good job of it yourself. I can see the eyes:

    ---------------------> :) <-------------------------

  • (Show?)


    A piece of unsolicited advice:

    Next time you're tempted to hand out grades and cite examples in support of them... you probably ought to make sure you know what was said - as opposed to what you think was said - before venturing out on a limb of arrogance.

    This time the limb broke under your feet.

  • (Show?)

    So I know that we have all calcified into our pros and cons here, but it would be nice if some of the Novickians out there would tip their hat to Jeff, whether you're voting for him or not. That article in the ORegonian was amazing, and say what you will about his candidacy, he's a damned interesting guy. I think his life story refutes the "vanilla" argument, but that's a strategic question.

    It doesn't cost Novickians anything to admit this guy is just damned admirable (as we Merkleyites have done of Steve). Can I get an amen?

  • (Show?)

    lying about your record and your opponents' isn't very admirable, jeff. And while Novick's life story is compelling, it's not enough to qualify him for office. Neither with Merkley.

    Don't worry, I don't expect Merkley folks to pee themselves over novick's piece tomorrow, either.

  • Peter Bray (unverified)

    Merkley or Zelig?

  • (Show?)

    Yes, he is interesting.

    Having said that, it's damned sad that 19 days before the ballots are due is the day Oregonians finally found out that Jeff Merkley was kinda interesting.

    His campaign has failed utterly from beginning to end to communicate anything interesting about him. He ultimately is responsible for that.

  • (Show?)

    Maybe vanilla is the new hot flavor?

    SurveyUSA's just-released poll shows that Merkley has surged to a statistical tie with Novick in just three weeks (when the last poll was released).

    Politically crucial demographics to watch: Merkley's support among women has tripled and he now leads Novick among women by a 30% to 25% margin. Novick is still ahead among men, but Merkley gained more ground among men in the last three weeks than Novick did.

    Plenty of nits to pick in the cross tabs. For starters, less than half (650) of those surveyed (1,800) are deemed likely to actually vote according to SurveyUSA's own analysis.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    The crosstab I would like to see is support for the candidates among likely voters. The rest of the folks really don't count. Anyway, it appears Merkley is doing better than the in last poll, not a surprise.

  • LT (unverified)

    Tom, the really important question about "likely voters" is the first 3 questions, which often reveal the sort of filter to used to indentify "likely" voters.

    Stephanie, "Having said that, it's damned sad that 19 days before the ballots are due is the day Oregonians finally found out that Jeff Merkley was kinda interesting. "

    Are you not aware that there are voters who may have just started paying attention to the US Senate race? The folks who have been paying attention since the competition between "stand strong with Steve" and "have a tap with Tester" are likely to be a small percentage.

    Wanna bet there are people in the 5th Cong. District saying "Let me get this straight--Schrader is running against Steve Marks for Congress, Merkley is running against Steve Novick for US Senate"?

    Not every voter pays close attention for a long period of time.

  • (Show?)

    You make a good point, LT. We political junkies often spend too much time swimming in our little fishbowl and forget that there's a much larger world out there which largely doesn't really give a damn about our obsession with politics. My teenage daughter groans and rolls her eyes when I even mention politics. The reaction I get from some of the guys I work with isn't really all that much more positive.

  • (Show?)

    I do not like the ad. I do not like rhetoric like "end trade deals that ship our jobs overseas." It may play to other Democratic voters and help Merkley in this primary, but it has more than a whiff of protectionism and is not a useful way to look at what is happening globally and to our economy. One of the greatest mistakes the Democratic Party could make, for the Party, for the USA, and for the world, is to go down the path of protectionism. If all I knew about either candidate was that ad, I would not vote for Merkley!

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Dave Porter,

    Whatever your view on trade agreements, US voters are very negative on them, even in states like Oregon that benefit from the international shipping business. Even candidates who are pro-free trade are unlikely to admit it to voters.

  • (Show?)


    Unfortunately, from my perspective, I think you are right. But like with the McCain-Clinton gas tax holiday proposal, pandering to voters, if they get a sense that that is what a politician is doing, may end up hurting the politician's electoral chances (one can hope). We need real solutions to our real problems. I am sure to many his ad sounds good. To me it sounds like pandering and not like dealing with real solutions.

  • (Show?)

    Dave Porter,

    Given we need a moderate level of protectionism, though with a different balance (cutting subsidies to industrial agriculture and related dumping in poor country markets that drives rural people off the land there, and, in Mexico and Central America, often to seek work illegally in the U.S.) as well as an industrial policy to rebuild U.S. manufacturing.

    I am not sure if you really believe that the present trade regime really represents "free trade" despite phenomena like the Chinese "low-yuan" policy or U.S. agricultural dumping, not to mention subsidies to U.S. companies to shift their manufacturing overseas.

    If you don't really believe that, your very generalized paeans to the principle would carry weight if you would address the real problems that rhetoric like Jeff's addresses and what alternative policies should be used to solve them.

    I am not sure if you have used the Econ 101 argument here, that is more Urban Planning Uberlord's bailiwick I think, but Econ 101 is essentially propaganda. There is a reason why they have 3 1/2 years of undergraduate economics plus graduate school above that level.

    And even so, a great deal of professional economics involves twisting all sorts of thing around to "prove" that things can be explained by conventional economic theory, rather than changing the theory when it doesn't match reality. It violates Occam's razor and often resembles late pre-Copernican efforts to recuperate Ptolemaic cosmology in the face of growing evidence for which it couldn't adequately account.

    Economic theory is based on a highly impoverished psychology of human motives and a fantastical set of suppositions about the nature of markets and their relationship to states.

    It also, in the abstract form you deploy, utterly fails to address the prior ethical, social and political question of "what is an economy for"?

  • (Show?)

    Oh, and Jeff, actually I think if you were to look at number of commenters rather than number of comments, you'd find that more of us Novick supporters have expressed respect or liking for Jeff Merkley than your comment reflects.

    Also, as well, many, many Novick supporters, including a number of those who don't fall under my claim above, have explicitly expressed the intent to work and work hard for Merkley if he is the nominee. On that score, I think the balance may be in favor of the Novickites. I've seen a lot of pro-Merkley "I'll grant you that Novick is smart and progressive" but it is my impression that is rarely followed up by explicit commitments to really work for him if he is the nominee.

    This particular Oregonian story tells me a lot more about Jeff than I knew before, and should he be the nominee, will help me in working for him more effectively against Smith.

    It may not matter in the primary, but should he be the nominee, I really hope he will punch up the visibility of his Habitat for Humanity work. Habitat operates in various kinds of rural and small-to-medium town areas and have a lot of credibility with a wide range of people. Jeff's work with them might well enable him to shave down Smith's rural and semi-rural margins in a way that could make a difference.

    I think of a relative, now in her late 60s, who is a liberal on national issues in a town of 500 in Eastern Washington where she grew up -- in the district that used to send former House Speaker Tom Foley to Congress but now is represented by George Nethercutt. She nonetheless was repeatedly elected to the school committee (a somewhat thankless job when school size decline was making it hard to field an 8-man high school football team despite the centrality of the high school to town identiey) and recruited for other civic tasks. This was because she is smart, competent, scrupulously honest, and civil with her neighbors, charitable if they give her the least room to be. The kind of Christian I'd like to be if I were one. Among the volunteer things she does work in and help organize the local Habitat operation. This had her working with and helping out people with whom she might or might not agree on political things, and is a source of respect for her. All kinds of people can understand it as an activity with concrete results helping people who are willing to help themselves.

    On brief comment on the little bit on his sojourn in Ghana (his high school interest in Africa does impress me, as an Africa scholar). The pride in neat and ironed clothes reflected in the story doubtless is true -- when I lived in Swaziland a problem with the Peace Corps was that where in the U.S. casual dress may be seen as unaffected, in Swaziland people often saw it as disrespectful. If you had the means to dress well, you should, at least up to some point of ostentation, and poor people (the large majority) would dress as well as they could manage as a sign of self-respect under conditions that hammered self-respect. I am sure this is true in Ghana as well.

    But there is a practical side to it too. Ironing kills bugs, which can be important to health and comfort.

    This doesn't really have anything to do with Jeff, probably more with my sense that the O's story leaves out details that might well have been there in longer original interviews (e.g. in 1980 the "Nicaraguan soldiers" probably were Sandinistas who had only recently come to power after the overthrow of Somoza in 1979, & though this was before Reagan's support for the Contras, they probably were uneasy about U.S. Americans, given the history of U.S. backing of the Somozas).

  • (Show?)

    Hey Jeff--you don't have to pee yourself...but you could post Novick's O piece!

  • (Show?)


    On the off chance that you aren't being purposely obtuse.........Try typing in Tax policy that encourages offshoring on the old Google Tubes.

    Here's one article quoting from the Wall Street Journal back in '04, and there are a host of others written by people who are rarely accused of the overuse of tinfoil.

  • (Show?)

    You're a classy guy, TJ:

    Don't worry, I don't expect Merkley folks to pee themselves over novick's piece tomorrow, either.

    As I've said throughout this campaign, I do admire Steve. Some of his more partisan supporters, in their zeal to defend him, try my generosity more.

    (And Chris, this was really the stuff I was talking about. I know many folks do admire both candidates, yet back one or the other. Many many folks. They're both great candidates and good people.)

  • (Show?)

    Fair enough, Jeff. A while ago I'd have had to say in all fairness that you had more to bear in that way of patience tried by supporters than had I, at least in volume -- but some folks on your side have been working awfully hard to catch up. As someone said on another thread, let's save some for the Rs.

  • LT (unverified)

    "I've seen a lot of pro-Merkley "I'll grant you that Novick is smart and progressive" but it is my impression that is rarely followed up by explicit commitments to really work for him if he is the nominee. "

    Chris, do you remember 1996 fall election?

    I believe that in a free country if someone has a finite amount of spare time (after addressing work and family concerns, not everyone gives every amount of spare time to politics---some actually believe they have a right to pursue hobbies or other recreation as well) they have the right to say "I have X hours of free time available to be involved in politics this month and will prioritize how I spend that free time".

    If someone has dandy local legislative races, if they live in the 5th Cong. District, if there are ballot measure races they wish to be involved in, no amount of calls for "explicit commitments to really work for him if he is the nominee" will force them to place the US Senate campaign at the top of the priority list.

    That was tried in 1996 summer and fall---although the 3 candidates who actually had ideas and political experience had a combined total vote in the primary(although one had been outspent 10-1 and another by 100-1) where their total votes "carried" something like 20 counties, there were those who said anyone who had supported one of those gentlemen should forget all that (including any friendships with those candidates) because anyone who supported another candidate in the primary OWED support to Bruggere because by golly he was the nominee as well as the DSCC choice.

    Oregonians have an independent streak going at least as far back as supporting E. McCarthy 40 years ago instead of the very popular Bobby Kennedy. The fact that so many folks supported 3rd party candidates in 1996 is how we got Gordon Smith in the first place--one friend who did decide to vote for the Dem. nominee call those who supported 3rd party candidates as "refusing to choose between the slick one and the chinless one".

    Whoever wins the primary will be a better nominee than Bruggere. But those of us who lived through 1996 do, I believe, deserve to know what Bruggere's 1996 policy director learned from that experience which informs his run in 2008. It is mentioned in his biography, so we have the right to ask about it.

    I was pleased to see that Novick's website has finally been updated to a more professional looking website without some of the folly like "flammable pants". Is the poverty video still there?

    If Steve wins, we will learn very soon if he is "ready for prime time". If he actually ASKS for the votes of Merkley (or Neville, for that matter) supporters, continues to say he realizes that "when I stand up for principle, I realize that some of my words may offend people and I apologize if you think I insulted a Democrat you admire", talks as if he wants the votes of people who may be registered NAV, R, or some other party, and no longer says he would never in his life say anything nice about GW Bush, he is capable of winning in the fall.

    BUT, if he continues the pugnacious attitude that has won him so many fans here (and also opponents) ANYONE in this state has the right to say "Sorry, there are other campaigns more important to me--you get my vote, but nothing else". It would be a waste of time for those who are strong Novick supporters to try the peer pressure politics used in summer and fall 1996. No one is OWED support in a general election simply because they won a primary. As the old ad said about a company making money "the old fashioned way", a nominee needs to EARN support, not demand it.

  • (Show?)


    I really am sorry if I'm making you feel like I'm trying to force you to do anything. I'm asking. I can't force you and wouldn't try even if I thought I could.

    But I am asking for some reciprocity from people who feel able to offer it, which clearly does not include you at this point.

    You know, to work on rebuilding mutual confidence within the party?

    I wonder what you think about how I should interpret it, if Merkley people across this board don't feel able to offer that reciprocity, and yet count on me to turn out for Jeff if he's the nominee? How close does that come to the kind of smug expectation that so infuriates you about the Bruggere campaign even 12 years later? Is Jeff, despite his skills inside the legislature and less pugnacious style, at risk of falling into the Bruggere attitude trap? Are his backers?

    (On pugnacity, I also note that Jeff is calling himself a fighter in ads, which is fine by me, just hope it's true if he gets the nod from voters. And yes, I do know that there are different methods of fighting and I do know that Jeff has accomplished much and contributed to many worthy efforts.)


    about what I remember of 1996:

    I moved to Boston in August of 1996 and was deeply alienated from all DP politics at the time by many actions of Bill Clinton's which I found deeply egregious and still regard that way. I started loathing the man long before the Lewinsky scandal and have never entirely stopped. In the fall of 1996 I voted for Ralph Nader and spent my political energies for the next two years in Boston working to build up the Labor Party to a point where it might have been electorally credible in some settings. I moved back to Oregon late in 1998, and became politically inactive for a considerable time due to personal life issues, good and bad.

    In 1996, partly because I knew I was moving and also was travelling back and forth to set things up, and partly because of that alienation, perhaps, I paid little attention to the senate race in Oregon at any stage, and have only the vaguest memories of not feeling like there was anyone I much would have wanted to vote for.

  • LT (unverified)

    Chris, That comment was not aimed at you, but at the folks like TJ and Stephanie who bring back bad memories of 1996.

    That was the year I turned 50, and it was also the year when I wished I could have cloned myself ---2 men I really admired were the candidates in that US Senate primary outspent 10-1 and 100-1.

    For all the screaming by Novickites, I doubt that the DSCC gave Merkley enough money to outspend Novick 10-1. I KNOW that blogs and other avenues of communication allow Novick (and for that matter Neville) to get their message heard in a way other than TV commercials and personal appearances. In 1996, how many voters had access to the Internet even if candidates had websites?

    The 2006 (remember Hackett vs. Sherrod Brown controversy?) and 2008 DSCC picks (in which cases have DSCC supported a promising candidate who never held appointed or elective public office over an office holder? ) have been based on more intelligent criteria than 1996. Love it or hate it, how many ordinary folks would think an elected official would make a good federal candidate vs. how many thought the road to the US Senate was to choose millionaire business people without political experience---esp. when the DSCC support was more along the lines of whisper campaign than the outright support (love him or hate him) of Chuck Schumer?

    In answer to your question, Merkley/ Novick backers are not part of a single celled organism. If Sally J. or Tommy S. insulted a Novick person, is that the responsibility of everyone who supports Merkley? Can Steve himself be held responsible for every word written here by TJ, Stephanie, or others? Instead of saying "Merkley/Novick backers" there should be discussion of individual actions. In any group of 100 supporters, I expect there are 100 individuals. In the case of Merkley I would see this as including people who are grateful for something he did as a state rep---or, for that matter, perhaps friends of Greenlick or Nolan who were not amused by the attacks against that guest opinion they wrote because after all, good progressives think an obscure 2003 resolution is the reason to support Novick.

    (Novick campaign has to decide---if someone thinks that 2003 resolution has no more connection to who would make a good US Senator than Rev. Wright or snipers in Bosnia have to do with what we want in our next president--does Steve want the votes of those people? Or only the votes of those who agree with him on the 2003 resolution? )

    Among the people I know who have attended Merkley events locally, I suspect they are smart enough to know that saying a question of where Merkley stands on a federal issue deserves a serious, concrete answer---not "stop raining on our parade" or "you're only saying that because you are a friend of........." as we saw from the Bruggere supporters of 1996.

    Anyone supporting either candidate who says something as ridiculous as "the primary is over, forget you were ever friends with the guy who lost" (actually done in 1996) is terminally stupid. If anyone ever does that to you, remind them that not only did Bruggere lose with that tactic but there is still anger about that tactic all these years later.

    The only reason I have a Merkley bumper sticker on my car is that I wrote a comment on a topic here saying, basically, "Novick and Merkley are both very bright guys, but Merkley has a point when he says........" and some guy named Miles said that made me a Merkleyite or some such rot.

    I'm in email contact with both campaigns, get the email newsletters from Novick, think they are 2 qualified candidates but one uses more diplomatic language and has what I consider better experience.

    So I responded "Thanks for making my mind up for me, Miles. With that kind of a crack, I guess I'll vote for Merkley". It is just human nature that such peer pressure can backfire--whether it is elementary school kids or any other group of any age, or politics.

    A very wise person at the Merkley campaign saw my comment, and sent an email asking for a mailing address to mail me a bumper sticker.

    Call me old fashioned grass roots, but I think that sort of action is worth more in the fight for actual Oregon votes than all the national attention the beer and To Tell the Truth ads got. Just as there are people supporting Obama because Hillary with all her experience should have run a better campaign, voters are allowed to make those value judgements.

    Any nominee this year will run a better campaign than Bruggere in 1996. But I will not lay odds that when the results come out a couple weeks from now, the top 2 names will be men. In Jan. 1996, Wyden's victory margin over Smith was smaller than the 3rd party votes. This was largely due to the performance of Karen Schilling, 3rd party candidate, in a debate. Neville reminds me of her in the debates I have seen. Wouldn't surprise me if she came in 2nd.

    A friend and I were discussing recently that the national press were here in 1980 for the primary when Mt. St. Helens blew that 2/3 of a cubic mile of mountain into the air---thus it got lots of publicity from almost the first moment. He made some quip about whether this primary would be an ordinary primary or a volcano. I said that anyone who is thinking in historic terms defining "the Democratic electorate" should put that aside--lots of people who registered Dem. to vote for Obama will have a chance to vote in US Senate, Cong., statewide primaries as well, and there is no way to predict how they will vote.

    Whatever else I remember about the Clinton years (a very intelligent President who hired really excellent people for many positions, believed in issue debates which used that intelligence, believed citizens have the right to disagree with the government, believed in helping ordinary Americans, not to mention the peace and prosperity of those years--regardless of his personal misjudgements), the most unforgivable thing was not Monica but the rise of "money is all that matters and only professionals know how the game is played" Democratic attitudes. It is the difference between Terry McAuliffe and Howard Dean.

    You said "work on rebuilding mutual confidence within the party".

    That is fine if all sides are willing. But the debate between the McAuliffe and Dean Democrats is larger than the debate between Merkley and Novick.

    I live near (blocks away, not even a mile) the boundary line between 2 state rep. districts. Whatever else that redistricting has done, the nature of those 2 districts has remained the same while the various pcts. in those districts has changed over the years. One is primarily an urban district with a bit of small town/rural added in recent decades. The other is primarily rural but with some pcts. which are easily walkable because the homes are close together.

    IF we want the legislature to make major reforms after the Minnis et. al years, we will need 36 votes in the Oregon House. Those votes will come by winning districts like these 2---although the "professionals" among House Dems and FP have said in the past "sorry, lousy R to D ratio, we can't help you", those districts were once D. As a former legislator commented, people forget that 20 years ago there was a Hispanic Democrat in one of those seats after the first Democrat elected to that seat became the first black state senator from our area. That is one seat--the other was once held by a D who was a farmer with strong family ties to the district (more along the lines of a Blue Dog than a Portland Dem, but by golly, there was a Dem. legislator representing that district back then).

    My point is that the Democratic Party is in the business of winning ALL races, not saying everyone should put US Senate higher on their priority list than anything else.

    A quality candidate running a quality campaign does not need what happened in 1996--candidate running ads saying "I fought a war, I founded a company, I am not Gordon Smith" and acting as if anyone who wanted more detail was some kind of subversive. One "friend" was stupid enough to say "I know you don't like him, but if you could just find it within yourself to talk to 2 of your friends about why they should vote for him" HUH???

    Quality, well run campaigns don't need that kind of nonsense.

    I wish the US Senate nominee well. Most of the Merkley people I know here in the valley (my friends are split on this primary) admire particular legislative accomplishments of his, find something he has said or done inspiring, or (in the words of one friend) say "I'm sorry, but I will not associate myself with certain of Novick's statements over the last decade".

    Don't forget, Novick is not the unknown quantity Bruggere was. When Novick first announced he was running, I wrote him about an offhand remark he had made years ago that still rankled. He wrote back "Did I really say that? What I meant was...".

    Read all the Novick endorsements by newspapers (looks like the updated site has a link to all of them). Count the number of times the word acerbic is used. What about the people who heard some of those remarks and never had a chance to confront Steve either in person or by email about what he really meant? Suppose Steve wins the primary. Should such people "work on rebuilding mutual confidence within the party" because Steve is not responsible for his own acerbic words, or do Steve and his supporters have some fences to mend? Since when does he define "principle" and we should all agree that acrebic language is OK as long as it is upholding undefined "principle"?

    I care very deeply about the presidential campaign, our local Congressional campaign (Hooley retiring) and those 2 very talented state rep. candidates in my area who I greatly admire.

    Right now I am working at what appears to be a temporary position (doesn't look like it lasts past mid-June) which I dearly love expect for the challenging split shift hours. I have no idea what my schedule will be like in a month or 2---in that situation I am probably joined by more Oregonians than many political activists would like to admit.

    No matter who wins the US Senate primary, I reserve the right to prioritize legislative and congressional races above US Senate and President.

    If that is too independent-minded for some people who think US Senate is the only race that matters, tough luck!

    BTW, the mention of the 50th birthday also has to do with why I don't see Novick's famous acerbic language as a virtue.

    It may come as a surpise to some people, but this debate goes back centuries--back to an Aesop's fable THE WIND AND THE SUN:


    I do believe in the saying which Barry Goldwater changed to "you catch more flies with honey than by hitting them over the head". I believe that diplomatic choice of words is often more effective than the blunt language some favor. Novick fans seem to love his acerbic language, but would general election voters?

    As you might guess, I was VERY angry in 1996. People I had considered friends were saying that I should quit even admitting to being friends of someone who had lost the primary (2 were people I really admired, all 3 I'd known for a total numbered in decades) because the primary was over. My former best friend in politics (who had gotten fed up and dropped out of politics by then) was a true friend--when she discovered I'd been introduced to a 3rd party candidate and actively supported him, she said "I'm glad you found an outlet for your energies". I sent her a Christmas card thanking her for being a true friend.

    When I got over some of the anger, I developed a one liner which got the point across without the angry language.

    "People told me that the year I turned 50 would be tough, but I never realized it would be this tough!"

  • (Show?)

    LT, thanks for some food for thought. I completely agree with you about 36 counties / all districts (& 50 states) & it strikes me that's actually another important thing that Steve & Jeff share, even if Jeff happens to have got some money from a DSCC that may not share it.

    I really don't lump everyone together, sorry if it looks like I did. It was more about patterns of individuals within loose groupings, but I take your individual emphasis point. Also you've managed to bring about a "light dawns on Marblehead" moment of understanding about something you've said consistently about the Bruggere campaign that nonetheless I've conflated & not adequately grasped -- the distinction between the attitude of the campaign in general which seems to have been one sort of problem, and the individual level of how that manifested itself for you with specific individuals. Which really does have a helpful bearing on my question. Thanks.

  • LT (unverified)

    Thanks, Chris.

    I have been angry about those 1996 events for a long time---you can't imagine what a shock it was to run into "old friends" (who weren't that after 1996) whose attitude could only be described as the title of a wonderful Firesign Theater routine called EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG! Unlike previous years where nominees were thrilled to discuss issues, the attitude was "forget all that--he's the nominee, you owe him loyalty more than he owes you answers". HUH??

    (If you don't know Firesign Theater, you are missing a lot--my brother introduced me to their recordings.)

    The Dean/McAuliffe split was set up years ago as one of those tectonic things that are below ground and only seen by seismologists until the big earthquake.

    Prior to 1991 the state party office was in Salem and was very grass roots based. For reasons I won't go into here, it moved to Portland that Spring. There were rural folk who had no problem driving to Salem to visit the party office, but had no desire to deal with Portland traffic. Funny, I don't recall much concern about an urban-rural split in the 1980s when I was so active with party as well as candidate politics.

    In 1996, legend has it that the only reason Bruggere carried Lane County was that a bunch of old timers saw the outsiders brought in to run the campaign as basically people who couldn't find their way around Eugene without help, and started their own organization which did GOTV etc.

    By 1997, there were friends who had been on State Central Comm. who felt they were no longer wanted in state Democratic politics---all they had was decades of grass roots volunteer experience, and they felt they were being told "shut up and take orders--only people on a political payroll know anything, volunteers should be seen and not heard". And then people wondered why old timers thought there were better uses of their volunteer time.

    In 1992 there were people who joked about the "8 year riddle". The Lonsdale/AuCoin US Senate primary (this Senate primary is mild in comparison, regardless of some of the venom in comments here) broke down largely along 1984 lines with Mondale people for AuCoin and Hart people for Lonsdale. One particular union Mondale supporter had been seen as very much of a "support the nominee" bully in 1984 (Mondale got the nomination, but Hart had won the Oregon primary by 59%) that there were party people not really active in the Senate primary who thought it would be amusing if Lonsdale won so that all the people who'd gotten the brunt of the "support the nominee" stuff in 1984 could throw it back at this activist in 1992. Almost happened--the recount result was 330 votes.

    I hope there is not a recount in this primary, whoever wins. Those are no fun.

    What I'd like to see is a return to unity events across the state (doing them just in Portland for a statewide campaign would be folly). I'm thinking of some of the ones I attended---like the time some of us made spaghetti sauce for a major spaghetti feed in June where the invitation list was a local "anybody who is anybody" and it was held at the home of a retired politician who had a large home in the country complete with large parking area. Or the time a friend of mine lost to a nominee named Ruth and said at the unity press conference that he was willing to support "Ruth, Justice, and the American Way".

    Quality campaigns need need not exhort followers of the opponent to join them, they do that on their own (as with superdelegates who have changed allegiance). True committment comes from people making individual decisions, not something like telling the supporters of a candidate who didn't get nominated (as with Hart delegates in 1984) that the nominee is owed a debate watching party or some similar committment to prove they truly support the nominee.

  • (Show?)

    "What I'd like to see is a return to unity events across the state (doing them just in Portland for a statewide campaign would be folly)."

    That's very interesting. How do you reconcile your apparent favoritism for Jeff Merkley, with his clear refusal to participate in exactly these kind of events, at the invitation of Steve Novick? Had Mr. Merkley accepted, wouldn't that have made this a different kind of race entirely?

    Remember that--first day he decided to make a contested race out of this, his opponent said "join me and we'll take on Smith together." Merkley had none of it.

  • LT (unverified)

    TJ, Are you saying that Steve suggested such events be held in late May or June and Jeff said absolutely not?

    When? Where?

    The unity events I remember were decided on by the candidates themselves, not by others.

    As for "apparent favoritism ", TJ, when was the last time you said anything nice about Merkley or anyone who even thinks Merkley deserves credit for his work in the legislature?

    And as far as this, "Had Mr. Merkley accepted, wouldn't that have made this a different kind of race entirely? "

    Let's see. Merkley announced in Sept. 2007. Which events showed Merkley's "clear refusal to participate in exactly these kind of events, at the invitation of Steve Novick"? Can you name specific events Merkley refused to participate in? Where is your evidence that Steve extended an open hand and Jeff wouldn't accept it?

    Jeff announced in September. http://www.blueoregon.com/2007/10/roundup-from-th.html is a roundup of the Sunriver Summit where both candidates appeared. Which events around that time did Merkley say he wouldn't appear at with Novick?

    http://www.blueoregon.com/2007/10/smearing-jeff-m.html appeared on Oct. 11, 2007.

    It was made very clear that Novick supporters thought Mitch and Mary had a lot of nerve posting that guest opinion. When you say "Had Mr. Merkley accepted, wouldn't that have made this a different kind of race entirely? ", are you saying that had Merkley accepted whatever it was, Steve would not have mentioned the obscure 2003 resolution in his Sunriver speech?

    By what source do you know Merkley refused to accept certain invitations to appear with Merkley? Were you in the room when decisions were made? Do you know the information first hand, second hand, third hand?

    Would anyone from either campaign verify your account?

    http://www.blueoregon.com/2007/10/smearing-jeff-m.html appeared on October 11 Would the comments on that topic have been different if only Jeff had accepted invitations you say he should have accepted?

    I'm not connected to either campaign, I live down the valley from Portland, I'm just a person working split shift hours who has heard both candidates speak in person and decided on the one who uses diplomatic rhetoric rather than acerbic rhetoric. Spin that any way you want.

    Maybe we can hear from employees of the campaigns on whether they verify your comment.

  • (Show?)

    Lt, I don't even know where to begin.

    *why would he invite Merkley for joint appearances in June or July, before Merkley entered?

    *"apparent favortism"--I don't know where YOU'RE going; I was simply giving you the benefit of the doubt for not being a declared Merkley supporter. It is merely apparent, not established.

    *Merkley announced August 1, 2008. September?

    *You're asking me to prove that events that never occurred did not in fact occur?

    *The same link above has Weigler publicly calling for "joint appearances." I know of no joint appearances scheduled by the candidates during this campaign, do you? Sunriver is scheduled by the party. The 2nd District candidates of 06 coordinated their appearances, if I'm not mistaken--but I'm happily corrected by Chuck (or one of the other candidates).

    *There is ample traditional media reportage on Merkley's reticence on agreeing to debate terms the other participating campaigns acknowledged. Debates are not the same thing as what we're talking about here, but the pattern is established about which campaign wanted public discussion and which one wanted to be stay above it all until June.

  • Masterpiece (unverified)


    Steve went on the attack against Merkley on the trumped up HR2 business immediately after Merkley announced. Whining about not having "join appearances" under those circumstances are little more than crocodile tears.

    There have been many, many appearances by the candidates together during this primary. Some have been forums. Some have been debates. None of them have been about unity. Novick has himself (with a lot of your personal assistance) to thank for that.

    When LT talks about unity events, I would guess he means the barbecues, happy hours and other similar things that take place after the primary.

  • LT (unverified)

    Masterpiece is right--I was speaking of late May and June events after primaries. Like the time a group of us made spaghetti sauce for a major unity Democratic event in June although some of us had been on opposite sides of a primary.

    Maybe TJ has gotten so wrapped up in all this that he doesn't realize that Steve has done more to benefit the Novick campaign by talking about a real life issue here http://www.blueoregon.com/2008/05/in-espn-magazin.html#c113295184

    than TJ has done for the Novick campaign in all of his blogging.

    There are still undecided voters incl. a friend I talked with today who was still deciding between Clinton and Obama (likes both) and hadn't even started looking at the other major primaries.

    And don't forget, not every Dem. voter reads BO!

  • (Show?)

    LT, I like your idea of unity events as you describe them, agree about statewide, and would like to see both candidates commit personally to taking part in them and to telling their supporters that they (the candidates) will be doing so and encouraging the supporters to consider doing likewise.

  • LT (unverified)

    Thanks, Chris. I recall the 1982 Cong. candidates doing that in this district. Not sure who organized that spaghetti feed held at someone's farm that drew such a crowd. One year the Dem. State Chair hosted a reunion of all Dem. national convention delegates (regardless of candidate) at his house.

    People who care about the party than the indiv. candidate are the people who strengthen a party.

in the news

connect with blueoregon