Election 2008

Chris Ryan/AP
Jeff Merkley, D-OR

Republican Gordon Smith Concedes Oregon Senate Race to Jeff Merkley

November 06, 2008 01:32 PM
by Lindsey Chapman
On Thursday morning, Republican Sen. Gordon Smith conceded the Oregon Senate race to Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley, moving the Democratic Party closer to a filibuster-proof Senate majority.

Jeff Merkley Becomes Oregon's Newest Senator

One of the country’s four undecided Senate races has come to a conclusion.

The contest in Oregon between Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, and his Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley was tight throughout the election, with both candidates trading leads in vote count, according to The Columbian.
On Nov. 5, The Oregonian reported that a mathematical analysis of votes remaining to be counted indicated that Merkley had beaten Smith. Neither candidate said he was ready to claim victory, though, “until more votes are tallied.”

However, on Nov. 6, Smith called Merkley to concede the race. Votes from Multnomah and Lane counties helped seal the victory for Merkley.

One of the reasons this race was undecided for this long is that election officials had a “last-minute flood of ballots” to deal with, which slowed vote returns in many counties, according to the Associated Press.

Merkley joins Oregon’s other Democratic senator, Ron Wyden, making them the state’s first “two-Democrat team” in four decades.

Related Topic: Filibuster-proof Senate

In the days before the election, Democrats were eyeing the possibility of a filibuster-proof Senate that could help the party more easily achieve its political agenda. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the Democrats’ gains from the election could “increase bipartisanship, civility and fiscal responsibility,” she was quoted as saying by the International Herald Tribune.

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