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National group backs Merkley

Aligns itself with economic stances of Elizabeth Warren, others

A group aligning itself with Elizabeth Warren is endorsing and raising money for U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, whose election in 2008 predates Warren's to the Senate from Massachusetts in 2012.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee says it has 21,709 Oregon members and nearly 1 million nationally. It has launched a national fundraising appeal, and says it has collected $69,400 for Merkley from 7,260 mostly small donors in Oregon.

It made its announcement Thursday, independently of the Merkley campaign.

Like Warren, Merkley has taken on Wall Street, and championed the creation of a Consumer Finance Protection Bureau that Warren proposed as part of 2010 legislation overhauling the financial system.

The group also praises Merkley for his support of changes in the Senate filibuster and his opposition to cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Merkley’s Republican opponent Nov. 4 is Monica Wehby, a physician from Portland making her first bid for public office. She has been the beneficiary of television commercials financed independently by a political arm of industrialists Charles and David Koch.

“He’s in a very tough race, so we’re pulling out all the stops for his Senate re-election in Oregon,” says Stephanie Taylor, a cofounder of the group.

“Jeff Merkley is one of the boldest leaders in the Senate because he isn’t afraid to take on the big fights like breaking up the big banks, expanding Social Security benefits, defending our privacy, and fighting to ensure Senate rules represent the will of the people.”

The group says it is making similar efforts on behalf of the re-election of Minnesota Sen. Al Franken and the open-seat bid of Bruce Braley in Iowa.

Wehby is getting help from national Republicans, including Jeb Bush, former Florida governor and potential 2016 presidential candidate, and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 presidential nominee who has scheduled a Portland appearance for her Oct. 2.

Wehby received a $2,000 contribution earlier this year from the presidential campaign fund of Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee.

Warren appeared on behalf of Merkley’s campaign May 28 in Portland, and is scheduled to do so again Oct. 6 in Eugene.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee was founded in 2009 by Adam Green and Stephanie Taylor. Both were MoveOn organizers; Green also was a Democratic Party communications worker, and Taylor was at Service Employees International Union.