At a number of lefty blogs, I have spent quite a lot of time advocating for candidates I believe will champion progressive causes. Many of you most likely know me because of my long time support for John Edwards. I have also thrown my support to great progressive candidates like Barry Welsh, Gilda Reed, Ed Fallon, Larry Kissell, Jerry Northington aka Possum and many others. Now that Edwards is no longer running for office, there has been one progressive candidate who has me energized and excited for November. He’s another son of a mill worker and his name is Jeff Merkley.
I know most people are focused on electing a Democratic President in 2008. I get it. SCOTUS. The Cabinet. The veto pen. The agenda. The Presidential race is worth a lot of attention, there’s no doubt about that. However, President Obama or Clinton will need a strong supporting cast to end the war in Iraq, to implement major health care reform and to begin cleaning up Bush’s mess. Right now we have a 31 seat majority in the House and a one vote majority in the Senate. We’ve all seen what little we can accomplish with a one vote majority in the Senate. Plus, we have some moderate Democrats in the Senate who have enabled harmful Republican policies. Next to the Presidency, electing strong progressive candidates to the Senate is really where we need to focus a lot of our energy.
A week ago I penned a diary titled, “Why I support Jeff Merkley for OR-Sen,” which argued why he’s the kind of candidate with the legislative skills we need desperately in the U.S. Senate. Here’s a snippet from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters about Merkley’s style of leadership:
Speaker Merkley was a strong leader who did not carry his ego on his sleeve. He listened carefully and always had an open door to the conservation community. He also cared a great deal about the cohesiveness of his caucus and was able to juggle the tricky balance between moving a conservation agenda forward while ensuring his caucus members agreed to the goals. Speaker Merkley deserves much of the credit for this successful environmental session.
The success the OLCV is talking about was the greenest session Oregon has seen in the last thirty years. Merkley presided over the House and helped pass a ton of environmental protections. In case you want to read about Merkley’s environmental proposal go here. I’ve posted this snippet from the Eugene Register Guard’s endorsement of Jeff Merkley but it’s worth repeating IMO:
Merkley, 51, is the only Democrat in the race with experience in elective office, having represented a Portland district in the Oregon House for five terms. As minority leader during the 2003 and 2005 sessions, he helped engineer the Democratic victories in 2006 that ended 16 years of Republican control of the House. His colleagues elected him speaker for the 2007 session.
That session was the most productive in recent memory, with important achievements in the areas of education funding, civil rights, consumer protection and budgetary stability. Merkley also presided over an efficiently run supplemental session earlier this year.
Merkley imposed tight discipline to keep his slender majority united and treated Republicans fairly in such matters as committee representation and did it without making enemies of any of his Democratic colleagues. A more convincing demonstration of leadership would be hard to find, and it’s a type of leadership badly needed in hyper-partisan national politics.
This goes to the heart of why we need someone like Merkley in the U.S. Senate. In a nutshell, he fights to pass progressive legislation, gets Republicans on board with the bills and is the type of leader who can strengthen and unite his own caucus. Our party is split on a host of issues and it’s one area that the Republicans continuously have us beat. The Republicans stick together and fight for the anti-family legislation and fight against good bills like the Employeee Free Choice Act. Republicans are a united body in Congress, whereas we don’t have the right kind of leadership to bring the party together. Merkley has been able to unite his party in Oregon and convince Republicans to help pass a payday lending cap, domestic partnerships legislation, countless environmental bills, anti-discrimination legislation, and funding for public schools. How many other politicians can tout a record like that? We also passed the Employee Free Choice Act in Oregon last year, here’s a piece from Tom Chamberlain the President of Oregon AFL-CIO about how productive last year’s session was for working Oregonians. I hope I’ve given you a little insight into why electing Merkley to the Senate will be huge for progressive advances at the national level.
Help me Raise 5k for Merkley….today!!!!
A bunch of Oregon bloggers, including myself are trying to raise $5,000 for Jeff Merkley today! The primary is on May 20th and I want to help keep Merkley’s ads on the air. Merkley isn’t the only Democrat running for the nomination, but I feel strongly that he’ll be able to beat Smith statewide. It’s not just that I believe that Merkley is the most electable of the Democrats running, I also believe that he could end up being one of the best Senators I will see in my lifetime. I know those are strong words. If Merkley has the chance to lead in the U.S. Senate like he has in the Oregon House, there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll have a real fighter on our side. Please consider throwing a little change to Jeff Merkley and help send him to the U.S. Senate to represent progressives everywhere!
The Merkley Campaign just released a new ad that you can help keep on the air, check it out: