cross posted from ProgressiveBlue.com
Senator-elect Jeff Merkley met with some members of the netroots this afternoon for a brief conversation. Before we had the chance to congratulate him, he was thanking us.
The netroots world was critical to my winning. ... I knew the enormous difficulty of taking on and defeating an incumbent. It was no small challenge, and the netroots got out the word on the feasibility and the viability of this race. ... You leveraged my voice with yours and brought resources and energy.
The results of the election are just sinking in for Jeff Merkley, the task before him is huge, the opportunities many. But this most progressive Senator since Paul Wellstone took the time to reach out with thanks and encouragement to those of us who supported him and broke through the corporate media for him as he too made history Tuesday.
It's been over 100 years since a Republican Senator from Oregon has been defeated by a Democrat. Yet on Tuesday, November 4, 2008, the people of Oregon spoke loud and clear. To those who might suggest that a 6 point win is not a mandate, look at what it took. Beating out an incumbent is always hard, beating out one who uses your own presidential candidate as part of his pitch to the voters is confusing, and getting 6 points on him, well that's just plain sweet.
Frankly, despite holding my breath still on a couple of races and gearing up for the Martin-Chambliss run-off, I've been doing a Snoopy-dance since Merkley was finally declared the winner yesterday afternoon. Nose in the air, ears flapping, the whole thing! So, let me encourage all of you sitting at your computers to do yourself a favor -- even if you think you're all danced out from Tuesday's Obama win -- get up off of your chair, and sing!! We have a real Progressive in Jeff Merkley!!
Let me share some of what Sen.-elect Merkley [I just love saying that] talked about today. <font>(Note: these are not direct quotes but taken from my notes. If I misheard or my notes are wrong, the fault is completely mine and I will correct any mistakes as soon as they are discovered.)</font>
On the selection of Obama's Treasury Secretary:
Given the conflicts of interest that have existed at the retail and Wall Street level regarding predatory lending, it would be nice to have a Treasury Secretary who understands how much harm predatory lending has done, from the mortgage writers who were paid more to put families into homes they couldn't afford to the derivative traders who bet on outcomes with over $1 trillion in insurance swaps.
On whether he will maintain close relations with the netroots after coming to Washington:
Netroots Nation (in Austin this past summer) was the most fun thing heI did in this campaign, meeting the people who are mobilizing opinions and taking action on progressive campaigns across the country. He sequed into media consolidation, saying that he is adamantly opposed to more media consolidation, we have already gone too far. To him, the bright spot is the internet allowing views and voices to be heard despite the corporate media.
On whether there is a mandate for Progressive change:
In one word, "strong" -- We now have 2 election cycles in a row where the people have rejected the conservative and Bush approach. We are certainly in a position to claim a strong mandate. (He reminded us that Bush claimed a mandate when he didn't even win the popular vote.) To Merkley, this is not the time to be shy. "If not now, when."
On energy and global warming:
Merkley hopes to get on Senator Boxer's team. Energy and the environment is one of the most critical issues facing us. From the national security perspective where the US is dependent on a few countries for its energy sources, to the economy where we ship millions of dollars offshore everyday to pay for foreign fuels, to global warming where we must work closely internationally to save our own species and diminish the damage done by human production of greenhouse cases. He spoke yesterday to Al Gore, who had campaigned for Jeff and will remain deeply engaged on these issues.
On war profiteering:
There are also conflicts of interest in the contracts out of the Pentagon where single cource contractors cheat the government with cost overruns or overcharging, get caught, pay a minimal fine, and get awarded another contract. He thinks we should be instructed bythe incestuous nature that existed between some members of the Bush Adminstration and defense contractors.
On Joe Lieberman caucusing with the Democrats:
Speaking only from a personal level and saying he would leave it to those already in Washington to decide what to do with or about Lieberman, Jeff Merkley recounted how he stood with Lieberman and his wife in 2004 when he received the Party's nomination to be Vice President. He then said, "a knife went through my heart to see him [Lieberman] stand behind John McCain." He believes rehabilitation is always possible but from his voice, I got the sense that he thought Lieberman had a steep hill to climb.
On the possibility of a second stimulus package:
He doesn't want to see us mailing out another round of $300 checks, but wants to see a focus on creating jobs especially in infrastructure. It may not be quite as fast but it is needed. Also, he suggested tax reductions to lower-income families, that we stop give-aways to companies building factories overseas, and importantly, ending the war would free up funds and resources.
On a green stimulus package:
We need to invest in R&D, in alternative technologies and energy sources and bringing them to scale as quickly as possible. Rebuilding buildings, both residential and commercial, could be a strong stimulus component.
On what he can do for Oregonians specifically:
The big issue for Oregonians in the campaign was and still is the economy. Addressing that means making affordable health care available to all, stopping the loss of living wage jobs in Oregon where workers are having to take on 2 service jobs to make ends meet, changing our tax and trade policies to promote job creation here, and investing in infrastructure.
Finally, I want to give a big shout-out to our own sarahlane who did a fantastic job as Jeff Merkley's netroots coordinator. He acknowledged both her and her predecessor Carla for their hard and very important work. We should too!
The Merkley campaign was very open to the netroots, recognizing early that we could be a valuable asset in getting around the media that were not going to be friendly to his campaign. Carla and then Sarah led a fantastic effort, and together with all the rest of the Merkley campaign team, deserve a huge round of applause and thanks for helping Oregon elect Jeff Merkley to the U.S. Senate.
Thank you, Senator-elect Merkley. Thank you, Carla. Thank you, Sarah. Thank you to the entire Merkley team.