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Thrown Under the Straight Talk Express? 

John McCain has announced his list of honorary co-chairs for his campaign in Oregon and Sen. Gordon Smith isn't on it.

John McCain has announced his list of honorary co-chairs for his campaign in Oregon and Sen. Gordon Smith isn't on it.

Oregonian blogger Jeff Mapes reports today that former Gov. Vic Atiyeh - the last governor that the Republicans managed to elect in this state - will be honorary chairman of the Oregon campaign. All the other top GOP officials in the state, including Oregon's lone member of the House, Rep. Greg Walden of our own 2nd District, and the Republican leaders of the Legislature are listed as honorary co-chairs, Mapes notes.

"The question is whether this is part of [Smith's] effort to play down his Republican Party identification," Mapes muses.

Hmmm ... ya think?

Smith, locked in a close battle with Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley, already has let it be known he won't be attending the Republican National Convention and has been running ads touting his cooperation with the Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee.

Smith campaign spokesperson Lindsay Gilbride insisted the two-term incumbent - who has been on the leadership team of every Republican presidential campaign since 1997, his first year in the Senate - isn't trying to steer clear of McCain and the GOP, but rather just wants to concentrate on his "tough re-election campaign."

C'mon, Lindsay - how much time does it take to serve as an "honorary co-chairman"?

"In addition," Mapes reports, "a November 2006 listing of McCain's campaign team (which I found on a politics website maintained by George Washington University) listed Smith as honorary co-chair in Oregon. And Smith has been mentioned as leading the McCain campaign in Oregon several times in media reports (including from me) without any calls for correction from the Smith camp.

Smith "is spending millions of dollars to mislead voters about his ties to Democrats, and then throws his good friend John McCain under the bus to get re-elected," Merkley spokesman Matt Canter told Mapes.

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