Coming up very soon, Oregon Senate candidate and current House Speaker will be live blogging over at the EENR Blog! This will be our second live blog at EENR, and we’re happy to be able to interact with Democratic candidates this way. It gives us all an opportunity to get to know the candidates better and it’s an opportunity for the candidates to hear the concerns of progressive activists from across the country. So come on over and join us in asking OR-Sen candidate Merkley questions!
What do you know about the Oregon Senate race? If you’re stumped, please follow me below the fold to learn about the race and the candidacy of Jeff Merkley.
Who is Jeff Merkley?
Jeff Merkley was born in the small town of Myrtle Creek Oregon and is the son of a sawmill worker. Jeff was the first to go to college in his family, and even spent a year in school as an exchange student in Ghana. Here’s a snippet about his education:
After earning his undergraduate degree at Stanford University, Jeff won a full scholarship to the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton, where he obtained his Masters Degree in Public Policy. In 1982, he won appointment as a Presidential Management Fellow, which gave him the opportunity to tackle several pressing issues in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. While serving as a Presidential Fellow, he focused his analytical talents on the critical problems of safeguarding American military technology, verifying arms treaties, and assisting the U.S. delegation to NATO.
So, he’s got the foreign policy chops which will be a great asset to take on Republican Gordon Smith. Merkley also has a strong history working to better his community. Jeff returned to Oregon and became the policy director for Habitat for Humanity. Here’s a snippet about his work with Habitat for Humanity and the doors it opened:
He also started the Walk for Humanity, launched development of the Habitat Home Building Center, and initiated a pilot project for “YouthBuild,” in which gang-affected youth learn life skills while building homes in their own neighborhoods.
His work at Habitat led him to serve as Director of Housing Development at Human Solutions, where he helped create affordable housing, a real need in the community. He founded Oregon’s first Individual Development Account (IDA) program to help low-income families save money to buy homes, attend college, or start businesses.
Jeff Merkley has been in the Oregon legislature for the last ten years. In 2003, he was elected by his peers as House Democratic leader. In 2006, Merkley was elected as Speaker of the House, where he really shined. Merkley presided over the greenest and most labor friendly session the Oregon legislature had in the last thirty years. He pushed for domestic partnership legislation, countless environmental bills, payday lending regulation, the Employee Free Choice Act, anti-discrimination legislation, and fully funding Oregon’s public schools. Merkley is rated as the AFL-CIO’s 2nd best member of the House, and received a 95% rating from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. Merkley has been endorsed by fellow Democrats like Jon Tester to Max Cleland. He has also received the coveted endorsements from the SEIU, AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood and Council for a Livable World among many others.
Merkley on the Issues
The things I look for in a candidate are pretty standard as a progressive. Is Merkley for UHC? Yes. Is Merkley serious about fighting climate change and creating a green energy economy? Yes. Did Merkley not only oppose the war from the start but does he have a plan to end the war? Yes. Does he have a plan to regulate the credit card companies, subprime lenders and payday lenders? Yes. If you’d like to learn more about where Merkley stands on the issues go here.
How is the Oregon Senate Race Shaping Up?
There are six Democrats vying for the nomination to take on Republican Gordon Smith, most notably Jeff Merkley and Steve Novick. It’s not going to be an easy election come November for the eventual Democratic nominee. While Smith has an approval rating below 50%, he has been able to pull the wool over eyes of Oregonians. He claims to be a moderate Republican, but he votes with Bush 90% of the time. That’s no moderate in my book. Smith voted to allow eavesdropping without a FISA warrant. Smith voted for a fence to be built along the Mexican border. Smith has voted against minimum wage increases and was instrumental in blocking the employee free choice act. Smith voted for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Smith voted for the bankruptcy bill in 2005. Smith flip flopped on ANWR drilling and worked with Cheney on the Klamath river disaster which resulted in a huge salmon kill. Smith voted for CAFTA, the NAFTA expansion into Peru, and every other free trade deal under the sun. You get the picture. As an Oregonian, I sure hope we unseat Smith so I can have two progressive Senators representing me!
I hope all of you will join us for the live blog in just a minute with Jeff Merkley. Get your questions ready and let’s have fun!