David Douglas grad kicks off US senatorial campaign

At a rally last week, orchestrated as well as any we’ve seen, Oregon State Representative Jeff Merkley kicked off his campaign to replace US Senator Gordon Smith. Look who showed up to cheer him on …

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams revs up crowd with the chant, “Who are we here for? Jeff!”

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
This article is not an endorsement – we don’t endorse candidates.

But the fact that outer East Portland resident – and David Douglas Schools graduate – Jeff Merkley is running for the US Senate seat held by Republican Gordon Smith is genuine news.

Merkley’s campaign kick-off last week was smoothly timed and impeccably produced.

We arrived promptly at 5:00 p.m.; neither Merkley nor his touring motor coach was on site. After a local band played, local progressive politicians took the stage.

Warm-up speeches by fellow Oregon legislative Democrats Diane Rosenbaum and Chip Shields began the event.

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams whipped up the crowd with a responsive chant, “Who are we here for? Jeff! Who are we here for? Jeff!”

Adams continued, “I’m honored to have the opportunity to tell you why I’m supporting Jeff Merkley for Oregon US Senator. He is a decisive leader who will speak for this state with an authentic voice.”

Wild cheers went up from the throng that had gathered.

“The ‘G-Men’, George and Gordon, have taken us in the wrong direction. Gordon Smith votes with George Bush at almost every opportunity he has,” continued Adams. “Booooo! Jeff thinks for himself.”

Merkley’s campaign motor home rolls into view during former Governor Barbara Roberts’ speech.

Former Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts followed Adams.

Roberts addressed the crowd, “Democrats, independents and enlightened Republicans, I have the opportunity to introduce to you the next United States Senator. The decisions American voters will make in 2008 will shape our country’s future. We need an authentic voice speaking for us in Washington D.C.”

Walking through the crowd, Merkley makes his way to the stage.

As he mounts the stage, Merkley goes for a big hug from Former Oregon Governor, Barbara Roberts.

On cue, a giant motor home, every inch covered in tastefully-done campaign graphics, pulled in the lot. To adulation of ardent supporters, Jeff Merkley walked from the motor home into the crowd; then to the raised platform from where he gave his first, official “stump speech”.

With his family behind him, Jeff Merkley delivers his first official campaign address to his supporters.

To read Merkley’s message, or view a video shot at this event, go to www.jeffmerkley.com.

Interested in what Gordon Smith has to say? Check his web site at www.gordonsmith.com.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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