Oregon Democrats Blast Smith Ad

Posted June 19, 2008 at 1:41pm

Oregon’s Democratic House delegation on Thursday hit back against Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), attempting to undermine the potency of a television ad that features two prominent Democrats endorsing the incumbent Republican’s re-election bid over state Speaker Jeff Merkley (D).

In Smith’s latest television spot, former Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Furse (Ore.) and state Sen. Avel Gordly (D) are sitting side by side and looking directly into the camera as they urge voters to support the Republican Senator over Merkley in November.

But in a joint news release, Democratic Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Darlene Hooley and David Wu argue that Smith in fact is not the independent-minded Senator that Furse and Gordly say he is in the ad. Furse served in Congress from 1993 to 1999, so her tenure overlapped with some of her former colleagues turned critics.

“After watching Gordon Smith’s new television ad featuring Elizabeth Furse and Avel Gordly we feel compelled to respond and to help set the record straight,” Oregon’s four House Democrats said in their joint release.

“We know that our friend and former colleague Elizabeth Furse has been gone from Congress for a long time. Had she still been in office, she would have opposed the [Iraq] war with us from the beginning rather than wait years for Senator Smith to speak out.”

The Smith campaign dismissed the House Members’ criticism.

“Sen. Smith is proud to have been one of the first Republicans to advocate an end to the Iraq war,” said Lindsay Gilbride, his campaign spokeswoman. “Regardless of the political season, he will continue working with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance our national security, strengthen our economy and promote energy independence.”

The 30-second spot featuring Furse and Gordly, both of whom also endorsed Smith in 2002, is set to run for a few weeks in the Eugene and Portland media markets, which serve much of the state’s Democratic-leaning communities.

Notably, though not surprisingly, Sen. Ron Wyden (D) did not join Oregon’s House Democrats in criticizing Smith. Wyden and Smith have long observed a non-aggression pact with each other, though Wyden has endorsed Merkley in the Senate race.