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…)