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November 07, 2008

Did Obama push Merkley to victory?

Oregon Senator-elect Jeff Merkley's (D) campaign is crediting Barack Obama for cutting a last-minute campaign ad that helped push him over the top against Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.).  The television ad was the only one Obama recorded for any Congressional candidate.

From the Oregonian's recap of the Oregon Senate race:

Polls from both sides showed the race essentially tied in the last week. [Merkley campaign manager Jon] Isaacs said he figured two things put Merkley over the top: the superior voter turnout effort mounted by Democrats and an ad featuring Obama urging Oregonians to help him by electing Merkley.

It was Obama's only TV ad for another candidate this fall. Isaacs said it didn't hurt that Merkley and Obama bonded last spring when they met. Merkley told the presidential candidate that his daughter hoped to have a sleepover with the Obama girls if he was elected. But the key factor, Isaacs noted, was that the Democratic senatorial committee went to bat for Merkley to get the ad made.

With 85 percent of precincts reporting, Merkley leads Smith 49 to 46 percent.  Smith conceded yesterday afternoon in an emotional concession speech.