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Sen. Gordon Smith (R), heavily targeted by the Democrats as he seeks a third term, is on the air statewide with his first television ad — and he also stepped up his fundraising this week with an e-mail appeal to supporters.

Smith’s campaign wouldn’t disclose how much the ad buy is costing, but described it as “significant.” In the 30-second spot, Smith touts himself as a bipartisan problem-solver who will work with the next president — “him or her” — to get things done.

“Partisan fighting, gridlock. That’s Washington’s answer to your problems … not mine. I get it,” Smith says as the ad opens. “I am Gordon Smith, and I’ve shown a better way — thinking independently, working with Democrats and Republicans.”

The Oregon Democratic Party swiftly responded to Smith’s ad, arguing that the Senator’s claims of bipartisanship are false.

“Gordon Smith doesn’t get it. Slick TV ads can’t hide his record. Gordon Smith votes with President Bush 90 percent of the time and opposes [Sen.] Ron Wyden (D) on ending the Iraq War,” ODP Executive Director Trent Lutz said in a statement. “Gordon Smith, it doesn’t matter what you say to the camera or what music plays in the background, you can’t disguise your record.”

The Senator, who has nominal opposition in the May 20 GOP primary, is set to face the winner of the Democratic contest, either state House Speaker Jeff Merkley or attorney Steve Novick.

Smith sent out an e-mail fundraising appeal asking for support in repelling the attacks from national Democrats that he said are forthcoming.

“In just three short weeks, I will know exactly who my Democrat opponent will be and my team must be prepared,” Smith wrote in the fundraising letter. “At that time, the liberal interest groups from outside Oregon (will) have committed millions in special interest money to support the Democrat candidate and attack my record full-force.”

— David M. Drucker

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