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Why is Gordon Smith
Weighing in on Dam Breaching?

by Jeff Mapes
The Oregonian, September 9, 2009

Okay, loyal Way West of the Beltway readers, it's time for you to... Play the Pundit!

This weekend, former Sen. Gordon Smith had an op-ed piece in his hometown newspaper, the East Oregonian of Pendleton, decrying the idea of breaching the Snake River dams. The hook is that U.S. District Court Judge Jim Redden of Portland is preparing to rule on a salmon recovery plan and Smith would like the judge to accept an approach that preserves the dams and has support from a wide variety of Columbia River users.

I'm told that the Oregon Republican has been back in Pendleton recently and wanted to weigh in on an issue that locals are quite worried about. That could well be the whole story.

But here's some alternative lines of thought for those who want to try your hand at punditry. They include:

  1. Smith is thinking of getting back into politics...maybe even to run for governor! I'd have to eat a lot of crow if he gets into the governor's race, because I've been saying for months that isn't going to happen. I didn't think it made any sense for him to go to work for a big lawyer/lobby firm in D.C. after his 2008 defeat if he were thinking of running again in 2010.

  2. Smith is trolling for clients, or already has one, to work on this issue back in Washington. I haven't seen any evidence of this.

  3. He's taking a little jab at former Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, who just announced that he wants a third term in office. Kitzhaber, you may recall, has said that the government should consider dam breaching, saying that it might be the best solution for restoring native salmon runs. I'm told that's not Smith's motivation, but the former senator may not mind if some see it that way.

Jeff Mapes
Why is Gordon Smith Weighing in on Dam Breaching?
The Oregonian, September 9, 2009

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