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Posts published in “Day: November 1, 2008”

Winding down scene: Astoria

Jeff Merkley

Jeff Merkley in Astoria (with Brad Avakian to the right)/Stapilus

From a distance, if you didn't look too hard, the gaggle moving along Commercial Street in downtown Astoria, invading businesses here and there, might have looked like an unruly gang, one of protesters carrying signs . . . except that they were peaceful enough, as you saw when you got closer. They included, after all, a United States senator, a candidate for the Senate, and a bunch of other local and state Democrats . . . All they were asking for was votes, which, this being Astoria and they being Democrats, wasn't unreasonably difficult . . .

This was one of the last campaign days, to put the lead point on it, for Democratic Senate nominee Jeff Merkley, and he was spending it with Senator Ron Wyden and other candidates (including Kate Brown for secretary of state and Brad Avakian for labor commissioner) heading down the north Oregon coast, down 101 to Newport. They gathered outside the Clatsop County Democratic headquarters, where something of a confrontation was underway.

The hot issue in Clatsop (there was a big ballot issue contest on it in the primary) concerns development of a liquid natural gas loading station. Most voters at least in the county are opposed, and LNG-with-a-slash-through signs are all over the Astoria area. But the development has backers too, and about a dozen of them showed up waving "I support" signs. (Several wore shirts or had other indicators of Republican support; one woman wore a shirt saying, "Don't be insane, Vote McCain"). One of them, a man who seemed furiously angry, shouted back at the Democrats for a while.

When Merkley showed up, he moved generally around the crowd, and spent a while with several of the pro-LNG people. There were no votes to be had there - Merkley and they were simply on different sides of this one - but the encounter managed to remain cordial. Not a mean feat. (more…)

Winding down scene: Longview

Dino Rossi

Dino Rossi in Longview/Stapilus

That, in the political environment of late fall 2008, Dino Rossi still is even competitive - and he may yet pull off the win - in his second race for governor of Washington, is testament to . . . something. Certainly Democratic Barack Obama will sweep the state in the presidential. And whatever criticisms might be made of the gubernatorial administration of Democrat Chris Gregoire, it has not been catastrophically awful, which often is what it takes to oust an incumbent. And most often, rerun races, as this is, only reinforce the outcome of the original.

The external environment was apparent enough at Rossi's stop midday at The Works, an old-fashioned family restaurant in central Longview: Democratic protesters were out in force with pro-Gregoire and anti-Rossi signs. The crowd of 60 or so inside the restaurant to hear Rossi - evidently a Republican loyalist crowd - seemed a little subdued owing to the general environment. But they responded warmly and eagerly to Rossi; there almost seemed, after all they've all been through, a bond between them.

Watched in commercials and on television, Dino Rossi always comes across professionally but sometimes almost a little too slickly. As he was addressing and working the crowd in Longview, you could see the high energy level but also a more personal and informal appeal at work. Also, a campaigner with an underrated sense of calibration: Working with the people at hand, but not pressing things too far even when he senses they might like it. (more…)