The first time I solicited donations for Jeff Merkley, he was running for the Oregon Senate seat. I was impressed by his solidly progressive positions on all kinds of issues, and especially by his brilliance as Speaker of the House in Oregon. After masterminding a successful effort to take control of the chamber in 2006, he had used a slim 31-29 majority to pass wonderful legislation on issues large and small.
The second time, he had won the Senate seat and was pulling all kinds of useful tricks to strengthen health care reform and bank regulation. I was asking people to give to his leadership PAC -- the fund he uses to contribute to other (Democratic) Senators' re-election campaigns. Much like donating to a campaign directly, this helps Democrats win elections. The added bonus is that then those Senators will owe Jeff favors, and he'll be able to get them to support the good stuff that he supports. As a random person sending in money over the internet, it's hard for you to get the Senators whose re-election you supported to vote for progressive stuff. Jeff, however, can get in their faces and do it for you.
Now that the 2010 election is over, we can see what Jeff's leadership PAC did with the money. Its 2010 expenditures are on the chart at left. I'm happy! Corrupt people's leadership PACs can just be slush funds for golf outings, but here we see Jeff doing useful stuff.
Right at the top of the list is a $10K donation to Harry Reid. This is exactly what I wanted Jeff to do with the money: help an influential Senate Democrat win re-election. I like Harry Reid, and I really like Harry Reid winning and having Jeff to thank.
Next up are two Oregon things -- Ron Wyden's re-election and Future PAC, which I believe helps Democrats lower down in Oregon. Wyden was a shoo-in so it's not like we saved a seat there, but some of this Oregon back-scratching is what you have to expect. I'm sure Wyden will repay the favor when Jeff comes up for re-election in 2014. Helping Democrats at the state level in Oregon is a fine thing to do as well.
Next we see Jeff supporting the victories of two solid progressive female Democratic Senators who were in close races much of the way. And then there's the victory by 0.5% of capable public servant Michael Bennet over angry misogynist Ken Buck.
A lot of this donation activity went on in the early part of the year, so you see him spreading his bets, including contributions to some campaigns that failed or didn't even happen. That's a risk you take with donating early, but it's matched by giving a campaign more options with when and how to use the money. All in all, this is an excellent record.
Over the last week or two, we've seen Jeff using his influence in the Senate to excellent effect, getting all 53 of the Democrats in the next Senate to support filibuster reform spearheaded by himself and Senator Udall of New Mexico. You can check out his recent interview with Ezra Klein. To have a Senator who got elected just two years ago throwing his weight around like this is pretty spectacular.
So what am I doing now? I just donated $2400 to Merkley's re-election fund, to intimidate anybody who would think about challenging him in 2014, and help him win that election. We've got something good going here, and I want to make sure we can keep it. And when the New Year rolls around, I'm going to be doing that again and tossing another $5K to Merkley's leadership PAC. I've set up an ActBlue page for this, and feel free to use it if you're so inspired! The leadership PAC is the best thing to give to.
I'm feeling really good about this -- I think I've found one of the best ways to use my limited-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things money to make things go better in the world. If you'd like to help out too, that would be wonderful.