Gordon Smith axed from speaking at Portland AIDS Walk

Oregon’s Republican Senator Gordon Smith

There has been much bruhaha over this year’s Portland AIDS Walk. Two candidates in a volatile and closely watched Senate race, Republican incumbent Gordon Smith and Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley, were both scheduled to attend. However, Gordon Smith was supposed to speak and LGBT Dems were most certainly upset that Cascade AIDS Project chose to let Smith speak.

Certainly Basic Rights Oregon, an organization that had endorsed Merkley, was not happy. Director Jean Frazzini had this to say to Just Out:

Gordon Smith is not a friend to this community…Gordon Smith flip-flops on the issues, trotting out his support only when his campaign is in trouble and he thinks it will score him a few extra votes in Portland and Eugene…

There is only one thing that fair-minded Oregonians can count on from Gordon Smith, and that is that every six years, he will roll out a hate crimes advertisement in the Portland media market in an effort to look like a moderate. But most national and local gay organizations know the truth about Gordon Smith, and that’s why they decline to endorse him. We know the kind of leadership this community needs, and it’s not Gordon Smith.

CAP issued no statement on whether this cancellation had to do with the riled LGBT community or the statements from BRO, simply calling the cancellation a “crossed wire.” There is also no further information on who, if anyone, will be replacing Smith at the podium and whether he will still take part in the walk in a non-speaking capacity.

Update: According to Willamette Week, Smith will not be in attendance at all due to a scheduling conflict. Merkley, however, will speak. CAP wanted to make it clear that they invited all local politicians and this drama is just how it all happens to be shaking out.

But whether the swing came from CAP, Smith’s office, or elsewhere (as nobody seems excited to claim any agency in the decision) a metaphorical axe has indeed severed Gordon Smith from the Portland AIDS walk entirely.

1 comment to Gordon Smith axed from speaking at Portland AIDS Walk

  • portlandiowa

    Both candidates need to be treated equally.
    I’m already considering a vote for Smith because of his A rating with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
    And he’s been a strong supporter of several bills that I lobbied for including the Early Treatment for HIV Act, Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act, and amendments for comprehensive sex education.