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place, politics and power in oregon

Gordon Smith is No Udall October 23, 2007

Colin Fogarty of OPB throws a nice media softball right at Senator Gordon Smith, who was ready at the plate with his corked bat. The central gist of Fogarty’s clip is clear: Gordon Smith is so moderate, he has elected Democrats in the family that he considers ‘brothers’. Hell, Smith’s part of a family dynasty that has its grip on government, so why even try ousting him?

It’s interesting to see that Fogarty, one of OPB’s sharpest analysts in the news department, has been relegated to the bureau of warm human interest pieces. To wit:

Following the meandering branches of most family trees is inevitably complicated. And in Mormon families polygamist marriages were common several generations back. So figuring out who’s related to whom can be even more complex. [. . .]

Having three Udalls in the U.S. Senate would be unprecedented. But it would not be out of character for a family dynasty that is full of so many state legislators, government officials, and state Supreme Court justices. The family is considered the Kennedys of the west.

Fogarty foretells the prospect of a political power family winning three Senate elections without even coming close to spelling out the process or likelihood of that happening. And that’s either sloppy or outright favorable coverage of Senator Smith, who gets to again wear his moderate clothing unexamined.

First of all, Congressman Mark Udall, Senator Smith, and, if he decides to run, Congressman Tom Udall will all stand in the 2008 Senate election, presuming they make it through the primary. Secondly, according to Senate race-rankers, Smith, a 10-year Senate veteran, faces almost as much difficulty in winning his contest as his two ‘brothers’, who would be running for seats currently held by Republicans. Congressman Mark Udall is actively campaigning for retiring Sen. Wayne Allard’s (R) seat in Colorado, while Congressman Tom Udall is mulling a run at the New Mexico seat that Sen. Pete Domenici (R) is leaving.

CQPolitics.com currently ranks the Colorado and New Mexico races as ‘No Clear Favorite’ because of the strengths of the possible Democratic nominees seeking election to seats currently held by Republicans. Senator Smith’s race is in the next-closest column, ‘Leans Republican’. These two categories represent the most unstable and up-in-the-air contests in the 2008 Senate electoral field. While it may be fun and light-hearted to talk ‘what-if’ about the makeup of the 111th Congress, it’s disingenuous of Fogarty to make anything more than a passing reference to the actual likelihood of that happening.

If you’re wondering, here’s the passing reference:

Smith says he considers both his cousins “brothers”. But they are Democrats, so don’t looking for any brotherly love on the campaign trail.

Gordon Smith: “I’m going to stay out of the race. And I wish them well. I’d love to serve with them. I also know there are forces at play that are bigger than any of us individually. But no matter how it turns out, they’ll still be my brothers and maybe they’ll be my colleagues.”

Smith statement, “I’m going to stay out of the race”, is quite ambiguous. Which race? His own, or one of the Udalls’? Of course, Smith’s absence in the former is only wishful thinking on his part–he’ll undoubtedly have to campaign his ass off to even try to hold on to his seat. But since Fogarty didn’t press Smith on his prospects of re-election, Smith gets a free pass to make it seem like he has no opposition at all! It seems that as Jeff Merkley’s campaign picks up speed and momentum in the grassroots, Smith may be in the most elective trouble out of all three ‘Udalls’.  

Finally, if instead of this ‘Smith-is-moderate’ fluff OPB’s news department really wanted a story of political dynasty, it would have done well to link Smith more inexorably with Congressman Mo Udall. Though it would have little ostensible connection in substance, the two will undoubtedly share one outcome: losing an election.

Mo Udall lost his bid for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency to Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Gordon Smith will lose his seat in the U.S. Senate to Jeff Merkley in 2008.

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6 Responses to “Gordon Smith is No Udall”

  1. Um, what? OPB ran a story speculating about Tom Udall running for the U.S. Senate?

    Seriously. The dude announced TWO WEEKS AGO that he’s not running.

    Puff piece, indeed.

  2. torridjoe Says:

    “Gordon Smith will lose his seat in the U.S. Senate to Jeff Merkley in 2008.”

    Not if it’s Merkley he’s facing.

  3. Taoiseach Says:

    I wouldn’t underestimate Colin Fogarty’s smarts. He can probably get around the blogosphere and turn this post from the Swing State Project and turn it into “OMG Tom Udall is totally backing down from his earlier decision and will run” for the news buzz.

    Also, the way this bit was advertised on OPB today went something like this:

    “Did you know that Gordon Smith is part of a political dynasty along with Tom and Mark Udall? It seems that they are all poised to serve in the Senate together”.

    ‘Poised’? Give me a God damned break.

  4. Sal Peralta Says:

    Mark Udall is the congressman from my former hometown who replaced my former boss, David Skaggs.

    He’s a very good man, and he is certainly the odds on favorite to become Colorado’s next Senator. He’s a damned sight better than the incumbent or the Democrat who beat out “polluter pete coors” in 2004 with one of the most negative campaigns I’ve ever seen at any level of politics.

  5. Liz Says:

    Two things Gordon does not have which made Mo Udall such an admired figure:
    common touch
    good sense of humor

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