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Suislaw News - Sen. Smith Makes Coastal Tour

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Suislaw News - Sen. Smith Makes Coastal Tour

Shawn Penrod

Two-term senator locked in close race with Democrat Jeff Merkley.

With less than a week to go in the election campaign, Republican Senator Gordon Smith made a surprise stop in Florence yesterday morning during a week-long, statewide bus tour.

Smith is seeking his third term to the U.S. Senate and is currently in a tight battle with Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley.

Fewer than two dozen supporters and curious on-lookers met with Smith and his wife Sharon for breakfast at the Little Brown Hen Cafe along Highway 101.

Upon arriving, one supporter immediately asked Smith about the prospects of a Democratic president and a Democrat-controlled Senate and House of Representatives.

"That would fundamentally change this country," said Smith. "We need checks and balances in the government."

Florence Mayor Phil Brubaker was on hand to greet Smith and welcomed him to Florence.

"Senator Smith has been keeping balance on the political scene and is a great supporter of rural Oregon," said Brubaker. "It means a lot to have him here."

Smith told those gathered that although it has been a tough race, it was a winnable one.

"The other side of the aisle has brought in a lot of New York money," said Smith.

"Jeff Merkley is a good person, but it hasn't taken him long to forget rural Oregon," said Smith, regarding his opponent. "I promise never to forget rural Oregon."

Smith also pointed out that he had the endorsement of all nine American-Indian tribes in the state.

"It is a source of great satisfaction to see the tribes take their rightful place," said Smith.

As a two-term senator, Smith noted that he has worked his way up to the top third of the U.S. Senate. If Merkley were elected, Smith said that he would start at the bottom.

"I sit on the most powerful committees in the Senate," said Smith, who is a member of the Finance, Commerce, Energy and Natural Resources and Indian Affairs committees.

After a breakfast of French toast, Smith boarded his bus and headed north to Newport.

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