Jeff Merkley, the son of a millwright and first in his family to attend college, has spent his whole life fighting for the public interest. Born in Myrtle Creek, Oregon and spending his childhood in Roseburg, Merkley knows what it’s like to live in both rural and urban Oregon and represents all of Oregon in his work in the United States Senate. His policy education came first from his father, Darrell, who after work each day would read the newspaper, watch the evening news, and run a commentary on how we could improve our nation. Growing up in a middle-class family, Merkley stands firmly on the side of working people during these tough economic times.
Merkley’s public service began as a 19-year-old intern with Oregon’s former Senator, Mark O. Hatfield. Never in Merkley’s wildest dreams did he anticipate that he would return to the Senate 33 years later to represent Oregon in Hatfield’s former seat. He considers it a great honor and a great challenge.
Between Merkley’s college internship on Capitol Hill and his election to the U.S. Senate in 2008, Merkley immersed himself in public service. As a national security analyst at the Pentagon and at the Congressional Budget Office, Merkley contributed to the dialogue on responsible management of nuclear weapons. In 1991 Merkley returned to Oregon to lead Portland’s Habitat for Humanity, which works to empower low-income families through home ownership. Merkley later served as President of the Oregon World Affairs Council, expanding the K-12 education program and launching an International Speakers Series that has brought dozens of distinguished leaders to Oregon such as Mikhail Gorbachev and the Dalai Lama.
Merkley won his first campaign for State Representative