Jeff Merkley

Sen. Jeff Merkley was one of the "no" votes this week on the debt ceiling/budget plan that Congress approved. Fellow congressional Democrats Peter DeFazio and Earl Blumenauer also voted "no." Here's Merkley's statement about his vote:

I’ve got a pretty simple test when I’m considering legislation. Will it help the middle class and small businesses create opportunities and get ahead? It's a test the debt bill couldn't pass, which is why I voted no. All policymakers should use that criteria, but the debt plan we voted on today proves that not to be the case.

After over two years of a devastating recession, and a decade of stagnant wages before that, our number one goal should be creating jobs and making sure our kids have opportunities in the future.

Instead, this deal will cut off jobs and pile burdens on middle class families who are already paying the price for a decade of bad policy choices.

Imagine: Americans who may have lost a job, whose mortgage is under water, who can’t afford their kids’ college anymore and have seen prices skyrocket for food and gas are asked to tighten their belts.

At the same time, the very wealthiest Americans and big, well-connected special interests are 100 percent insulated from any sacrifice. Their lavish tax breaks and sweetheart deals sprinkled throughout the tax code have been conveniently put off limits for any cuts.

The conventional wisdom says we have to swallow this deal. But if we give in to these ransom demands and allow the extremists to continue their assault on the building blocks of middle class prosperity in order to protect the wealthy and well-connected, we’ll be facing more ransom demands soon enough.

I don’t discount the need for tough choices to bring down our unsustainable deficits. But they can’t be only tough choices for those who can least afford the sacrifice, while those in the penthouses and boardrooms continue amassing more and more and more.

This is a fight about more than how we lower the deficit, it’s a fight for our country’s basic values, and our future. Too many in Washington seem to have forgotten that America’s economic strength is inseparable from the well-being of its middle class. If we continue to sacrifice their prosperity to provide more to the well-off and well-connected, we sacrifice America’s greatness. Let’s not let that happen.

Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, Lane County Commission candidate Rob Handy and U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Merkley have all won their tough and pivotal election fights.

In unofficial final results, Piercy beat Jim Torrey by 2 percentage points. Handy beat Bobby Green by just one percentage point.

Merkley leads by three percent with 79 percent of the statewide vote counted. Smith reportedly plans to concede shortly.

Jeff Merkley appears likely to defeat Gordon Smith in Oregon’s tight U.S. Senate race.

With an estimated three quarters of the vote counted at 8:18 pm, Merkley had come from behind for a 0.5 percentage point lead of 8,270 votes.

With late counted returns in Lane and Multnomah counties heavily favoring Merkley, it appears mathematically unlikely that Smith could make up the deficit.

At 7:33 pm, the Oregonian projected a Merkley victory. Smith has not conceded.

State law triggers an automatic recount if the margin is less that 0.2 percent.

Depending on whose numbers you’re looking at, either Smith or Merkley are leading as U.S. Senate election results trickle in Wednesday afternoon. Just after 4:15 pm, The Oregonian’s has Merkley ahead of Smith by 3,446 votes. But the unofficial tally at 4:30 pm on the Oregon Secretary of State website has Smith ahead by 5,760 votes.

We won’t know the results until Wednesday night or even Thursday, but it’s interesting to see that The Oregonian and the state apparently are getting their numbers independently. The likely cause of Merkley rise is late returns from left-leaning Multnomah County.

At 11:39 am, Gordon Smith lead Democrat Jeff Merkley 47.5 percent to 46.7 percent in the squeaker U.S. Senate race.

But late voting in Lane and Multnomah counties could mathematically push Merkley to a narrow victory, assuming current voting trends in the two counties and the rest of the state continue.

An EW analysis calculates that Merkley could end up with an estimated 48.4 percent of the total vote when all ballots are counted. Assuming percentages for a third party candidate and write-ins remain the same, that could mean a narrow Merkley victory over Smith.

Almost half the votes in Lane and Multnomah counties remain to be counted. The two urban counties hold a big chunk of the state’s Democrats, and vote counting there has lagged behind the rest of the state.

A big uncertainty is whether Constitution Party Candidate Dave Brownlow will continue to pull votes from Smith at the same statewide rate in the two counties.

Smith can try to hide behind the Dems, but something tells me it's not gonna work.

I'm pretty sure this isn't the first time the New York Times has noted Republican Senator Gordon Smith's cozying up to the Dems for votes, with Smith stopping just short of endorsing his own Democratic rival, Jeff Merkley, but what's interesting is the timing of the piece, and its placement on the front page (!) of the NYT website. Also, the article points out something I didn't know: "David Brownlow of the conservative Constitution Party, has registered in the high single digits in some recent polls ... [which is] likely to hurt Mr. Smith the most." Go Brownlow!!!

If you're sick of Smith's charade, donate here.

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