The Democratic Senator has debated joining an increasingly crowded field for president. He also is up for re-election next year.
Mounting an early campaign for the White House doesn’t necessarily preclude seeking another term in the Senate; the March 10, 2020, filing deadline for the May 2020 Senate primary is after 13 of the early, field-winnowing presidential caucuses and primaries.
Merkley, a Portland resident and former state House speaker first elected to the U.S. Senate 11 years ago, initially talked about making a decision by the end of 2019, then pushed that back until the first quarter of 2020.
Since then, the Democratic field has grown crowded, including five of Merkley’s Senate colleagues. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee jumped in the race last week, and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced his bid Monday.
The letter Merkley sent supporters Monday night didn’t tip his hand:
Since Donald Trump was elected, I’ve been traveling from coast to coast helping organize our resistance and get our country back on track. I’ve gone to the border many times to call attention to Trump’s prisons for children, filibustered the brazen theft of a Supreme Court seat, and helped organize the fight for a Green New Deal.
I’ve had extraordinary encounters in every corner of the country with amazing people who are giving everything they have to create an America that works for all of us. And I’ve been thinking hard about what I can give, how I can make the best contribution to the vital work in front of us.
The letter closes with a fundraising appeal and a promise of answers Tuesday.