A Novick supporter for Jeff Merkley

By Jenni Simonis of Gresham, Oregon. Jenni is a local party activist and builds websites for political candidates.

Even though I began this political season as a Steve Novick supporter, I once again today got a reminder of why I now support Jeff Merkley and why it’s so important that we all work towards electing him this November.

MerkleytroutdaleThis afternoon in a little country store in downtown Troutdale, Speaker Jeff Merkley addressed a crowd of around 15, not including staff, who had come out to meet and talk with him and state representative candidate Nick Kahl (HD 49). This was the 7th stop on the 100 Towns for Change tour, which is taking Jeff to small towns all over the state.

As he told me today, it is important for him and the campaign to get out of Portland, out of the major cities, and into the small towns. “This race is about the entire state,” he said.

I think it’s great that Jeff is out speaking to people in little and medium sized towns all over the state. Sure, you might not have standing room only crowds of hundreds or thousands, but their voices are just as important. And these are the areas often times most overlooked in races like this one.

And it’s at events like these, where there’s no formal program – just Jeff going around and speaking with people – where you really get a feel for the problems affecting this state. Some discussed the economy and how worried they are about being able to make ends meet – even with a good job. Some discussed the Columbia River Crossing and how important it is for the economy to have a good transportation system, while also including alternative ways for people to get where they need to go. And others discussed the war in Iraq and all the ways it is affecting our country.

Time and time again, Jeff listened to everything that was said and then responded with his views, how Gordon Smith had handled the issue(s), and how he’d do it differently. He left people feeling as if they’d truly been listened to, and that he cared about their issue. That this gathering of 15 people was just as important as a gathering of a thousand.

After going through the room and making sure to stop and chat with everyone, Jeff gave a quick speech on why he’s leaving the state legislature for the U.S. Senate, what he sees are the biggest problems affecting our country, and what needs to be fixed. He also introduced Nick Kahl to the group – Kahl is running for the house district seat being vacated by Karen Minnis.

Jeff said that we have to put our nation back on track – it’s clear we’re in deep trouble. We need to work to put the economy back on track – and that means creating an economy that works for all Americans. While Gordon Smith has worked hard for the richest among us – the oil companies, the pharmaceutical companies, etc., Jeff has been fighting for all of us.

He did that work on a state level in his position in the state legislature. While he was in Salem fighting for fair interest rates for people needing payday loans, Gordon Smith was in DC fighting to protect payday loan companies in bankruptcy proceedings.

While Jeff was helping to pass legislation encouraging the use of alternative forms of energy – which has brought in more than a dozen new companies to Oregon – Gordon Smith was voting in ways that protected the oil companies’ profit lines.

After more than a decade of paralysis in Salem, Jeff along with other Democrats in this state, took back the state house and were able to get legislation through to better the lives of everyday Oregonians. And now, he says, it is time for him to help end that same paralysis in the U.S. Senate.

We need to protect and create new jobs here in the United States. He explained that through this administration’s trade policies, tax policy, and now the contracting out of military contracts overseas that we are doing away with our middle class. By driving those jobs overseas, which Gordon Smith has approved of through voting for subsidies for companies moving those jobs, we aren’t just hurting our economy today.

When contracts for things like new equipment for our military are taken overseas, we’re also losing the ability to build tomorrow’s workforce. Those that already have longtime experience in these areas help to train tomorrow’s workforce – that experience just doesn’t help with the project they have today, but those further down the line. And every time we lose one of those contracts or a branch shuts down and moves overseas, another group of young people doesn’t get trained. And it is the beginning of a cycle that is destroying the middle class, he said.

Members of Congress like Gordon Smith doing very little to keep our future secure, whether it is keeping and growing jobs here, ensuring soldiers coming home have the mental health care they need, or protecting our environment. And another six years of Gordon Smith representing Oregon in the U.S. Senate is going to put us even further behind in turning things around.

By the end of Jeff’s speech and his quick Q&A, it was obvious that Jeff cares deeply about the issues that are affecting our state, our nation, and our world. And his proposals, such as a Veterans Bill of Rights for the 21st Century, show that Jeff could easily be one of the most progressive members of the U.S. Senate. I may have been supporting Novick during the primary, but these issues and ideas make it very easy for me to get behind Jeff and support him in any way that I can. I know from my experience in working with him over the past six years that he’ll fight for what’s right for Oregon and our nation – and he’ll be an excellent U.S. Senator for Oregon. This is a case where I don’t feel that I need to work against Gordon Smith and make sure he isn’t re-elected – but a time when I can get behind the Democratic candidate and work for Jeff. I learned in 2004 that just being against someone isn’t enough – supporting your candidate and working for him will win you more votes and support than just being against the other guy. And it makes for a much better experience, as well.

I hope that all of you will have a chance to see Jeff as he heads around the state to talk with people. He was heading to Boring and then to Sandy when he was through with the event in Troutdale - and that’s just the beginning . You can read more about his 100 Towns Tour for Change here.

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    Wow, Jenni. That's a fantastic recap and an excellent commentary. I really appreciate your soul-search in all of this, and your passion in helping Jeff go after Smith and give us another progressive fighter in the Senate.

    Also, I love your recap of the importance behind the 100-town tour. Unlike Gordon Smith, Jeff's going to listen to Oregonians from all across the state (and not just the special interests).


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    Thank you for this warm and lovely piece, Jenni. Your post here is a wonderful tribute not just to Jeff--but to you. As a Merkley supporter and a progressive (and an admirer of Steve), its fantastic to read how a Novick (and now Merkley) supporter is moving forward in the battle to defeat Gordon Smith.


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    Yeah Jenni, thanks for the detail re Jeff's presentation. He came to Sandy right after Troutadale, and we had about 35 non-staff attendees.

    My sense was that maybe 10 or 15 people in the room knew very little about Jeff and his candidacy. As our event was at the VFW hall, he did a lot of discussion of veterans issues as well, but tied it all back into the central themes as you outlined them.

    Bottom line, a bunch of people left the event enthused enough to spread the word which, I believe, is what these small town meetings are all about.


    Don't forget to send Jeff a buck. My guy Obama's got more money than God, but he doesn't have a filibuster-proof majority in the US senate. For that reason alone we should all be looking at the state and statewide races.

    This one's at the top.

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    I too would like to add my 'applause' to your post as others already have.

  • j_luthergoober (unverified)

    Of couse we're gonna get behind Jeff to oust Lurch this fall but the fact remains that Jeff cuddled up to the type of people that have readily displayed a complete lack of moral fiber in their behavior towrds other Democrats and Americans as well.

    The fact that Jeff is now Chuck Schummer's boy should leave all progessive dems scratching their heads in collective awe. Jeff owes Chuick because Chuck gave Jeff three times the dollar amount Steve was able to raise from Oregonians during the Spring primary; and Chuck only gave money to Jeff, so Steve got nothing from the DSCC. Chuck gave us the current Attorney General Michael Mukasey who now refuses to investigate anything that the Bush criminals have done. Does anyone believe that Jeff will now be that assertive progressive whose role is to eradicte injustice everywhere that it may reside if he owes his seatorial seat to a New York sleaze-ball?

    You have my vote Jeff but not only because the mortician is a moron, but because I'm a better Democrat than you are.

  • Opinionated (unverified)

    Jeff's trip to 100 towns is the effort that is needed to rally all Oregonians behind for a change. Its heartening to see all democrats getting behind him.

    Go Jeff!

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    Posted by: j_luthergoober | Jun 16, 2008 4:33:00 PM

    Your post is devoid of any substance or merit. To try ti insinuate that Jeff Merkley is some sort of sell-out to Democrats or progressives is patently absurd and is a pathetic attempt sat some sort of bizarro-world version of guilt by Kevin Bacon connections with the DSCC.

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    Ah yes, the Schumer-sellout canard.

    Merkley came out hard against Leslie Southwick and Michael Mukasey during the primary. In fact, when Merkley stood up on Southwick..righties (and some lefties) tried to blast him for criticizing on it because Schumer (and some other Dems) voted for Southwick.

    So damned if he does, damned if he doesn't, it seems.

  • James X. (unverified)

    What Merkley owes Schumer is a win in November.

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    Posted by: James X. | Jun 16, 2008 5:39:15 PM What Merkley owes Schumer is a win in November.

    And what we owe Oregon and the nation is a Merkley win.

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    Thanks everyone. It was great seeing Jeff out in all these small towns. I knew Sandy would have a great turnout - they have a strong organization out that way. As I told Jeff, the last time I know of Gordon Smith being out this way is when Gresham mayor Bemis brought him in for a "tour" of downtown Gresham. I saw it more as a campaign stop, since Bemis has been a strong supporter of Smith in the past.

    The fact that Jeff is now Chuck Schummer's boy should leave all progessive dems scratching their heads in collective awe.

    I didn't like the fact that the DSCC got involved in our primary. However, I know the reason why they chose to back Merkley over Novick is that Merkley had the experience as an elected official, is the current state Speaker of the House, has been involved state-wide because of his work to elect other Dems to the state house, etc. They want to win this seat, and they saw Merkley as the person best able to win it.

    The DSCC is the body that elects Democrats to the U.S. Senate, and so of course they're going to get involved in this election. My only wish is that they'd waited until May 21st.

    However, I agree with James X. in that the only think Merkley owes Schumer is a win in November. That's it. I've seen Merkley stand up to Karen Minnis and Wayne Scott. I have no doubt he can do the same to do what's best for Oregon and our country.

  • Rulial (unverified)

    Great post, Jenni!

    I'm done listening to people re-fight the primary. If you don't like the DSCC's influence in our primary, then write them a letter or get behind some sort of campaign finance reform or something. But stop writing posts that begin with "I support Jeff but" and then go on to publicly undermine him for the rest of the post. When I read these, all I hear is concern trolling.

    Jeff is a good progressive. He will make an awesome senator. He will be a vast improvement over Gordon Smith. We must work to get him elected.

  • rick metsger (unverified)

    We need to unite around our candidate. Jeff called last week and I said I would host a fundraiser for him at our house on mt. hood in september. if you want to help Jeff please e-mail me and i will ensure you get an invite(plus no one throws a better party!!!!)Time to take back the Senate. The primary was good for Jeff and for Democrats. He is better equipped for The Fall campaign than he ever would have been without the great work by my dear friend Steve Novick. Let's unite and elect Sen. Jeff Merkley.

  • Jack Sullivan (unverified)

    Chuck gave Jeff three times the dollar amount Steve was able to raise from Oregonians during the Spring primary

    Goober, can you post a link to prove that? Or are you just making up numbers?

    Because Novick raised nearly a million dollars, most of it in Oregon. Merkley raised just slightly more than that -- and certainly not three million from the DSCC alone.

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    However, I agree with James X. in that the only think Merkley owes Schumer is a win in November. That's it. I've seen Merkley stand up to Karen Minnis and Wayne Scott. I have no doubt he can do the same to do what's best for Oregon and our country.

    Well said, Jenni.

    Perhaps a better example is how Jeff publically opposed LNG - which one of his chief endorsers (Gov. K) supported.

    Jeff's not afraid to disagree with his own side of the aisle.

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    Top quality write up and coverage, Jenni.

    <h2>We are all wiser for your work. :D</h2>
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