Today's announcement that fair trader Jeff Merkley defeated anti-fair trade incumbent Gordon Smith in Oregon's Senate race is just the latest mind-blowing evidence that fair-trade issues have gone national (and beyond the Rustbelt) more than any election in our nation's modern history.
As Lori and I write on HuffPost, Merkley "shattered the conventional political wisdom by running and winning as a fair trader in the Pacific Northwest." As the latest version of our report shows, Merkley's fair-trade message helped improved his party performance against Smith in all but 2 of Oregon's 40 counties - including all the key socially conservative, working-class counties. Merkley's globalization message was perhaps the most sophisticated of any candidate in the country: a 2007 press release from early in his campaign, for instance, attacked the Peru FTA for:
Extending NAFTA’s provisions that give foreign investors more rights than Americans to sue the federal and state governments;
Enabling foreign investors to challenge American public health, environmental, zoning and labor protections in foreign courts
Blocking government procurement rules that require the hiring of U.S. workers and ‘Buy American’ provisions
Setting limits on food safety standards that require the U.S. to rely on foreign regulators and inspectors
Merkley's ads were equally hard-hitting, such as this ad where he deconstructs the phrase "free trade":
We did a press conference on the report earlier today with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Reps.-elect Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) and Mark Schauer (D-Mich.), and Steelworkers President Leo Gerard. You can listen to the audio here. Here's our latest press release on what went down, and here's a quick snippet from the senator:
"The election results demonstrated Americans continued rejection of NAFTA style trade agreements," said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). "Ohioans figured out a long time ago that weak environmental and safety laws abroad allow toxic food, toxic trade and contaminated vitamins into their homes and as a result across the country we saw candidates who supported President Bush's trade agreements lose their races."