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Sources Say: Jeff Merkley is off and running

Don’t look now, but Democratic Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley already is running hard for re-election.

Although no Republican has challenged him so far, the Merkley campaign sent out an email last week seeking contributions to inflate his total for the first fundraising quarter of the 2014 election cycle.

The email was signed by Jon Issacs, who was Merkley’s campaign manager in 2008. It explains Merkley’s strategy of discouraging serious opposition, despite being a potentially vulnerable first-term U.S. senator.

“As you know, these first-quarter numbers will be scrutinized by national political pundits. And that scrutiny will drive the national dialogue about which Senators are vulnerable and which Senators are in a strong position. That is why this final push is huge,” according to the email, which was the fourth fundraising plea sent by the Merkley campaign last month.

Open spaces, open campaign funds

As expected, the campaign in favor of the May 21 ballot measure to maintain Metro’s open spaces is being supported by environmental activists and organizations. But it also has received sizable contributions from developers and construction companies that have benefited from the Smart Growth land-use policies favored by the elected regional government.

According to the most recent campaign filings, Restore Our Natural Areas has received $2,500 from the Audubon Society of Oregon, $1,000 from Friends of Trees, $5,000 from The Freshwater Trust-Oregon Trout Inc., $250 from environmentalist Mike Houck and $2,500 from the Urban Greenspaces Institute that employs him.

The campaign in support of Measure 26-152 has also received $5,000 from the Williams & Dame Development company that built much of the Pearl District and South Waterfront, $2,500 from the Hoffman Construction Co. that specializes in mixed-use developments, and $1,000 from Stacey and Witbeck, the construction company building the Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail line.

Courting the Defense of Democrats Act

With the U.S. Supreme Court seemingly poised to repeal a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, it’s worth noting how Oregon’s congressional delegation voted on it back in 1996. Democratic U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden was one of 14 senators to vote against it, and is one of only three who are still there. The other two are California Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. Former Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield voted for it.

The vote did not split along party lines in the U.S. House, however. Although Democrat Peter DeFazio voted against it, Democrats Earl Blumenauer and Elizabeth Furse joined Republicans Jim Bunn and Wes Cooley in voting for it.

Blumenauer refuted his support of DOMA in 1999, however. And so has former Democratic President Bill Clinton, who signed it.

The Supreme Court is only considering whether to repeal the provision that prohibits federal benefits to legally married same-sex spouses of federal employees. It is not considering the provision that prevents states from recognizing legal same-sex marriages performed in other states.