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Deborah Boone

Deborah Boone

Candidates for partisan office love to trumpet support from members of the opposition party, but only occasionally – even rarely – does it mean a great deal. To really mean something, such support has to include elected officials from the other party, or substantial office holders in the other party’s structure. That’s where “Democrats for” or “Republicans for” organizations really count: When they’re getting the hard gets, hard because such people ordinarily are loathe to publicly back an opposition candidate.

We’ve made that point with “Republicans for” groups in Idaho, which included people who may have been Republicans but weren’t elected office holders (present or past) or substantial party figures. Turn now to Democrats for Smith – Oregon Senator Gordon Smith – and consider that list.

There is a former Democratic U.S. representative on the list, Elizabeth Furse. Her presence in the group probably had more impact last time around, in 2002, than now, because she left Congress after three terms in January 1999, and hasn’t been very politically visible since. (She was David Wu’s predecessor’s in the 1st district.)

The next most significant name on the list, and the most significant now, is state Representative Deborah Boone, of Cannon Beach. She is quoted on the Democrats for Smith site as saying, “exactly the type of Senator Oregon should have representing us.”

But today, she’s saying she’s instead supporting for Senate House Speaker Jeff Merkley, saying “he has demonstrated the kind of leadership Oregon needs in the U.S. Senate.” She has withdrawn her support for Smith.

There are other Democrats on the Democrats for Smith group, but Boone’s departure seriously thins the ranks of officials elected as such. The announcement of the group in 2002 (then at a key juncture in the race) may have had some impact that year. Barring a fresh infusion, it seems less likely to have as much effect this time.

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