|Senate nominee Jeff Merkley (left) talks with House Majority Leader Dave Hunt/Stapilus|
The Oregon Democratic unification road show did its thing this morning, pointing up the key participants in such a gathering: The primary election losers. It is their joining in, after all, that becomes the key random factor internally.
Just that was rendered finely clear on the Republican side this morning, as the Oregonian reported on the fallout from the GOP contest in the U.S. House 5th district. There, businessman Mike Erickson won the primary but may lose the war, as important components of his own party - starting with his main opponent, Kevin Mannix, and going on to Senator Gordon Smith and Representative Greg Walden among others - declined to endorse, and warmly welcome him to the fold. (They had their reasons, which should be evident to readers of earlier posts.)
The Democrats, convening first at Portland State University (where we watched) and later at Eugene, seemed to have fewer such problems. A number of primary losers (such as Greg Macpherson for attorney general and two of the contenders in the 5th district even though new nominee Kurt Schrader wasn't there) showed up.
The hottest Democratic primary contest in Oregon was for the U.S. Senate nomination, narrowly won by House Speaker Jeff Merkley over attorney Steve Novick. Some of the respective backers may stay mad for a while. But at the unity event, where part of the point was to give Merkley a cheering general election sendoff, Novick was present, circulating socially, delivered a strongly-worded and characteristically well-organized rally speech for Merkley, and shook his hand on stage. And Merkley responded in kind.
Merkley's road ahead against Republican Senator Gordon Smith won't be easy, but he will not likely have to contend with internal party problems.