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No guest today– and no Blue America endorsement. Or, let’s put it another way. Both candidates running in the Oregon Democratic primary are so excellent– and so much better than the rubber stamp incumbent– that Blue America is eager to get behind either one. We’re happy to leave that up to Oregon Democrats to decide. Normally, the only time we feel comfortable inserting ourselves into a primary is when there is a truly progressive Democrat fighting a reactionary one– like our latest pick, Ed Fallon in Iowa. (Meet him here May 10.) Fallon is going up against a Bush Dog/Blue Dog, Leonard Boswell, who has been almost as supportive of the Bush-corporate agenda as he has been of Democratic congressional initiatives. And soon we’ll be hearing more about Georgia state Senator Regina Thomas’ campaign to win in Georgia’s 12th CD, a seat currently held by someone far to the right of even Boswell, John Barrow.

Oregon is a very different story. The Republican incumbent, Gordon Smith, although– like many Republicans– claiming to be a "moderate" and an "independent," has a voting record that is extremely right wing and in almost total lockstep with the extremist Bush agenda– on everything. Both Democrats, Jeff Merkley and Steve Novick are incredibly good progressive alternatives. If either one of them winds up in the U.S. Senate, it will mean a giant step forward towards a more progressive America.

Their positions on all the big issues are virtually identical– identical to each other and identical to the Blue America ideals. Each has endorsed the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq and both will support efforts to end the occupation as fast as can be done safely. Both of these guys have strong and exemplary plans on the environment, health care, the economy and education. And both are strong supporters of civil rights and have come out against Bush’s telecom immunity plans. Each also has a history of working for progressive issues and candidates– Jeff Merkley as Oregon House Speaker and leader of FuturePAC (which helped flip the Oregon House from red to blue in 2006) and Steve Novick as an effective political consultant and advisor to many of Oregon’s prominent progressive candidates for office and organizations (including Governor Kulongoski, SEIU and AFL-CIO).

Oregon bloggers are extremely impassioned about the primary, and partisans on each side make the Clinton-Obama contest look like a garden party. It’s really a shame and benefits no one but the execrable Gordon Smith. There’s an hour-long "debate" between Merkley and Novick (and two minor candidates) at the Willamette Weekly editorial office and now available at BlueOregon. It’s about an hour long but if you have the time and interest, it will be well worth your while.

We plan to invite the winner of the May 20th primary to come over to Blue America and talk with us about the race against Smith. But if you’ve got some spare change in your pocket this week and want to do a good turn, please consider sending some toward Kentucky progressive Greg Fischer, our guest here a few weeks ago. Earlier today I posted a new video that could help Greg against the reactionary shill Bruce Lunsford at DWT and I’m hoping we can help him put ads like this on the air. It’s either that or a sure-fire victory for Mitch McConnell in November. (And if you believe me when I say Gordon Smith is no good… there are barely words to describe how awful McConnell is.) Anyway, I have 5 autographed copies of Al Franken’s book, The Truth for the first 5 people who donate at least $30 to Greg’s campaign here.