Despite previous "dramatic" reports here,
it looks like the only candidate in Oregon's upcoming Senate race who will have a chance to speak in front of the thousands of participants gathering on Sunday at Pioneer Courthouse Square for Cascade AIDS Project's annual AIDS Walk Portland
is going to be Jeff Merkley—
not Gordon Smith
It has been a thorn in the side of local gay rights activists (including Basic Rights Oregon Executive Director Jeana Frazzini
) that until today, Smith, was going to be the only Senate candidate speaking to a group made up of a very glbt-friendly crowd.
But, according to Roma Peyser
, who organizes the annual walk for CAP, it was never the organization's intention to turn the walk into a political forum.
"We extended an invite to our state elected officials," says Peyser. "And then we asked (Mayor-elect) Sam Adams and both of our state's Senators if they wanted to speak. Gordon Smith accepted our invitation."
Or at least that's what they thought.
It's busy back in D.C. right now with the budget crisis and all, and there was a miscommunication out of Smith's office. Although it was CAP's intention to have Smith speak, his schedulers had never actually put it on his calendar. Oops.
So Smith is going to be a no-show.
"Since we already extended invitations to all our state officials," says Peyser. "we then asked Speaker of the House Merkley, since he will be the state's top official attending, if he wanted to speak. He has accepted our invitation."
(Photo above of Jeff Merkley at last Friday's NARAL Benefit)