Race Type: Democratic Challenge
Primary Opponent: Steve Novick
Primary Date: May 20, 2008
Primary Election Results: Won Primary
General Opponent: Gordon Smith
General Election Date: November 4, 2008
General Election Results: Won, 49% – 46%
Candidate Quote: “I envision a nation where every child is able to get a strong public education and afford college; where every American has health care; where every worker has the unequivocal right to organize and join a union; where every American can live without facing discrimination; where women have 100% access to reproductive health care; and where our elected officials are free from the influence of big money political campaigns.”
Why We Like Him: Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley has spent his career fighting to provide opportunities for working class and low-income people. As the next United States Senator from Oregon, he will be a strong advocate for progressive change in Washington. He has built an outstanding record of accomplishment during his decade of service in the State House and has served as Speaker since the Democrats took control of the body in 2006.
Candidate Website: http://www.merkley.senate.gov/
Jeff is committed to strengthening education by fully funding public schools and making college more affordable. In the Senate, he will fight for universal access to affordable, quality health care coverage and work to establish a National Nurse Service Corps to help solve our country’s nursing crisis. He will protect our natural environment and move America toward energy independence by investing in new technologies and reducing emissions. Jeff was the first U.S. Senate candidate to sign onto “A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq” and once elected he will work diligently to bring our troops home.
Jeff was born in Myrtle Creek, Oregon and moved to Roseburg after his father’s sawmill closed down. Jeff worked hard in schools and became the first in his family to attend college. Education gave Jeff the opportunity to become just about anything. He is running for U.S. Senate to ensure that all children in America have the same kind opportunities he had.
After graduating from Stanford and earning his masters degree from Princeton, Jeff was named a Presidential Fellow assigned to the Pentagon. He then spent several years as a national security analyst for the Congressional Budget Office protecting our world from nuclear weapons. Jeff returned to Oregon with his wife Mary and became Executive Director of Portland Habitat for Humanity. There he worked to help low-income families build new homes and retake some of the city’s most neglected neighborhoods.
In 1998, Jeff became so frustrated with the direction Oregon was heading, he ran for the State House and won. After three terms as a member of the minority in the legislature, Jeff was convinced that new leadership was needed to put Oregon back on the right track. In 2004, he was elected by his colleagues to be the Democratic Leader in the House. Two years later, he spearheaded the caucus’ successful campaign to take back the majority and became the first Democratic Speaker in 16 years.
Since then, Jeff has taken Oregon in a new direction. His session as Speaker has been widely praised as one of the most productive in decades with a number of important legislative accomplishments. Under Jeff’s leadership, the House passed the Oregon Worker Freedom Act to protect employees’ right to organize and gave child care and homecare workers the ability to join unions. Jeff tackled global warming and protected the environment by standing up to oil companies to dramatically reduce emissions in Oregon and invest in renewable energy. The House also passed bills to prevent health insurance companies from raising insurance rates before publicly justifying and earning approval for the increase. Jeff took courageous stands on civil rights issues, creating domestic partnerships and banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in Oregon. Jeff fought for quality education by passing the largest single increase in school funding in Oregon’s history – doubling college scholarships to ensure educational opportunities for all Oregonians. Finally, Jeff opposed the Iraq war from day one and honored the sacrifice of our troops by promising free access to higher education for the families of our fallen soldiers.
Jeff Merkley has spent his life working to create positive change in the lives of others. He worked hard in the Oregon State House to put his state back on the right track, and now he is ready to do the same for America in the US Senate. He understands the value of honest work, good schools and strong families and 21st Century is confident that he will continue to be a strong advocate for the progressive agenda and bring genuine change to Washington.
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