Ashland Daily Tidings




House Speaker Jeff Merkley, one of two Democratic candidates trying to unseat republican senator Gordon Smith, announced Monday that he just broke the Oregon record for challenger fundraising in the last quarter of 2007.




A press release announced Merkley raised $619,000 that quarter, bringing his total to nearly $1 million since joining the race last August.




"I'm profoundly grateful for the support we've received in just four short months," he said. "These are folks who believe, as I do, that we can only change Washington by changing the people we send there."




Merkley's fundraising efforts represent the best two-quarter totals that a challenger for senate has ever posted in Oregon, according to the press release. Bill Bradbury held the previous record.




Merkley, who was on Southern Oregon University campus Monday, said he's running for Smith's seat because he wants to see an "end to the war and an end to fiscal irresponsibility."




He said Smith's view of America begins and ends in a corporate boardroom.




The democrat, elected to the Legislature in 1998 and named speaker in 2006, voted for the resolution in 2003 that supported U.S. troops in combat, but said he opposed the war.




Merkley said in a speech at the time that he was "not persuaded that Iraq was a significant threat to the United States&

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Today, he has a five-point plan for stability in the region, which includes eliminating permanent U.S. military bases there and engaging Iraq's neighbors in a diplomatic effort to secure peace, particularly Turkey, Iran and Syria.




Merkley, who was born in Myrtle Creek in 1956, studied international relations at Stanford University and earned a masters degree in public policy from Princeton. He served as executive director of Portland Habitat for Humanity from 1991 until he was elected to the Oregon House of Representative in 1998.




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