As U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley waited to take the mic at the Oaks Park Labor Day picnic, union members roared approval at the suggestion that he consider running for president of the United States in 2020.
Northwest Oregon Labor Council President Jeff Anderson told audience members of several news articles suggesting that Oregon’s junior senator might make a run for president in 2020 if there isn’t a strong progressive in the field.
“I would like to stoke the fire and make that true,” Anderson said to wide applause.
Merkley didn’t respond to that wish on stage, but he told the Labor Day crowd that over the last four decades virtually every penny of new income has gone to the top 10 percent in America.
“How about instead of policies for the top 10 percent we have policies for working America?” Merkley said. “The wealth of the country has gone up, up, up. Let’s have the wealth of working Americans go up, up, up!”
Merkley was the only Democratic U.S. senator to endorse Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid, and he made national news when he staged a 15-hour filibuster in opposition to President Donald Trump’s nominee for Supreme Court — Neil Gorsuch.
On Sept. 1, Oregon’s senator authored an op-ed in a newspaper in Iowa, which has the nation’s earliest presidential caucus.
Dan Mahr, labor liaison for Oregon’s junior senator, says Sen. Merkley is focused on the 2018 mid-term elections, where he is part of the Democratic leadership team trying to win back the U.S. House and hold the line in the U.S. Senate.
“You could tell by his speech that he’s fired up and ready to go to the mat for working folks,” Mahr told the Labor Press. “First things first.”