Smith Went Down With Sinking GOP Ship
As I wrote in August, Smith, a blue-state Republican incumbent in a tight race, adopted a bizarre and risky strategy — much like that of Sen. John McCain — of running against his own party. Smith took it a step further when he tried to ride Sen. Barack Obama’s coattails to reelection.
You may recall Smith garnered headlines over the summer for running this ad, in which he attempted to link himself to Obama:
The move blew up in Smith’s face when the Obama campaign endorsed Merkley. From The Washington Post:
“Barack Obama has a long record of bipartisan accomplishment and we appreciate that it is respected by his Democratic and Republican colleagues in the Senate,” says Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. “In this race, Oregonians should know that Barack Obama supports Jeff Merkley for Senate. Merkley will help Obama bring about the fundamental change we need in Washington.”
Smith also skipped the Republican National Convention and distanced himself from McCain by resigning from McCain’s Oregon leadership team.
Despite having a reputation as a GOP moderate — he suggested the Bush administration’s handling of the war in Iraq may “be criminal” in 2006 — Smith’s defeat encapsulates the tough political situation that Republicans faced this year. It also shows that politicians, like it or not, are usually married to their party, no matter how much they might want a divorce in the bad times.