Is Merkley ready to give up his seat?
Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley's recent admission that he is considering running for president in 2020 must have politically ambitious politicians in the state buzzing.
Merkley made the admission to The New York Times on June 21. He is up for re-election in 2020, and the Oregon Constitution appears to prevent him from even filing to keep his seat if he runs for president, and maybe even vice president. That would create a rare open U.S. Senate seat in two years, which undoubtedly would attract a large number of candidates.
Here's what Article II, Section 10 of the state Constitution says: "No person holding a lucrative office, or appointment under the United States, or under this state, shall be eligible to a seat in the Legislative Assembly; nor shall any person hold more than one lucrative office at the same time, except as in this Constitution expressly permitted; provided, that officers in the militia, to which there is attached no annual salary, and the office of postmaster, where the compensation does not exceed one hundred dollars per annum, shall not be deemed lucrative."
When the Portland Tribune asked Merkley's office what he thinks about the apparent prohibition against seeking two "lucrative" offices in the same election, spokeswoman Sara Hottman would only say, "Sen. Merkley is laser focused on 2018 right now, so is thinking about getting Democratic colleagues into office and reclaiming 'we the people' democracy."
Plenty of challenges ahead
The New York Times story said Merkley had raised his national profile by recently visting a Texas detention center for immigrant children. But it also raised questions about whether he could win the presidential nomination or even be seriously considered for vice president.
Among other things, the article says Merkley doesn't have much of a record of accomplishments in the Senate.
"Though a champion of same-sex rights and environmental causes, he has not been a legislative standout, and is known mostly as the only senator who endorsed Mr. Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries," The New York Times wrote.
The article also quotes Merkley as admitting that he's not a compelling public figure.
"I'm not the person who comes to battle with, if you will, extensive charisma," Merkley said. "That's not me. But I am determined."
You can read the article at tinyurl.com/yd6njqj9.
Will Novick manage to tone it down?
Opinionated former city Commissioner Steve Novick apparently is going to have to watch his tongue for the next two years. He's been hired as an environmental lawyer by the Oregon Department of Justice under a grant from the NYU State Impact Center.
Novick, an unabashed liberal with a quick wit, already has given up his gig as the counterpoint to conservative local radio talk show host Lars Larson on KGW-TV's weekly "Left Hook Right Jab" segment.
The title is a reference to the metal hook Novick uses in place of the left hand he was born without. The two appeared to part as friends after Novick announced his new job during the June 21 broadcast.
The new responsibilities also probably mean Novick will quit weighing in on political issues on social media, too. Since leaving City Hall after losing to Chloe Eudaly in the November 2016 general election, Novick has used email to comment on such issues as income inequality and endorse political candidates.
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