Campaign Against Gordon Smith Needs to Start Today
Gordon Smith was first elected in 1996, and has spent the last ten years portraying himself in the mold of moderate Republicans who can actually get elected statewide here. Problem: There are no more Republicans like that in Oregon. Gordon Smith replaced the last of 'em! (Mark Hatfield) Since then, the Oregon Republican Party has been increasingly dominated by right wing anti-tax, anti-choice zealots who play well to their primary base, but can't win statewide. But I digress.
Smith wants, even needs, to be seen like a moderate, sensible Republican in order to get elected, and every now and then drops a position so the mainstream press in Oregon can wax poetic about their dying breed of moderate Republican. Holding out on a budget bill because of excessive Medicaid cuts (although he ended up voting for it), adding Gays and Lesbians to the Hate Crimes Statute (although voting for the Federal Marriage Ammendment), Smith is a die hard social conservative with a knack for knowing just how much he needs to feint to the left in order to preserve the moderate image.
My point is this: the electorate in Oregon wants to believe that moderates of both parties can exist. After the Hatfields and McCalls and even Packwoods of a generation ago, there is a deep seated desire for pragmatic, bipartisan leadership. Gordon Smith looks like he fits this model, and unless the people of Oregon can be shown that he is like every other social conservative they've spent 20 years rejecting, he will continue to be re-elected. The only way this is going to happen is with a coordinated, effective campaign by the blogosphere and activist class to show who Smith really is and that campaign needs to start today. Oregon is still a blue state, Gordon Smith is not wildly popular and he can be made to be vulnerable, but his vulnerability will only come about if we make it. [continued at SSP] [emphasis mine]
We have a recent model for how to make this work. Think Lincoln Chafee. For what it's worth, I assume I will be posting a great deal about this race and volunteering or working for his opponent come 2008.