Downtime with Sen. Jeff Merkley

Live, work and play with Sen. Jeff Merkley

Share this article!

What are you reading?  

I just finished reading Adrian McKinty’s thriller novel The Island, as well as a 1997 study of the Senate filibuster by Sarah Binder and Steven Smith called Politics or Principle? Filibustering in the United States Senate.

What are you watching? 

There are a lot of good TV shows out there, but I especially enjoy watching the dramas The Lincoln Lawyer and Yellowstone, as well as comedies, including Ted Lasso and Jury Duty.

What are you listening to? 

On long drives in Oregon, I often listen to The Daily podcast.

What is your must-have gadget? 

I call it the “Lion Hunter.” It’s a chemical-free weeding tool that resembles a pogo stick, and I use it to remove dandelions from my yard by twisting them out of the ground.

What are your hobbies/interests?

I enjoy home and yard-improvement projects. Over two decades, I’ve renovated most of the house. I’m also a native Oregonian, so hiking trails — both old favorites and new discoveries — as well as jogging, paragliding and tennis.

What was your childhood or earliest ambition?  

To make the world better. I wasn’t sure what form that would take when I was growing up, but it’s been the honor of my lifetime serving Oregonians. 

Where is your favorite place to vacation?   

The Oregon Coast is where I go to unwind and spend time with family and friends.

What is your biggest extravagance?

My wife and I had been talking about taking a vacation together in Italy for years. We originally planned to go on our 10th wedding anniversary, but we didn’t make it. Last year we finally got to go and celebrate our 30th anniversary in Italy, and we had a wonderful time.

What motivates you to come to work?   

The core place I come from is that ordinary people need a champion. I am absolutely thrilled when I can pass legislation that helps tackle climate change, advances LGBTQ+ equality or strengthens the four foundations for the success of our working families: good health care, quality education, decent affordable housing and good-paying jobs.  

Who is your professional role model?   

Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield. I learned the ropes of public policy as an intern in his office, where I had a front-row seat to seeing how a good policy can help millions of people and how a bad policy can hurt millions of people. Sen. Hatfield also taught me just how important it is to have an Oregon voice on the Appropriations Committee, so the needs of our state are always well represented when important federal funding decisions are being made.

What ambitions do you still have?   

I have many goals, including hiking the whole Pacific Crest Trail, biking across America and patenting an invention.

Click here to subscribe to Oregon Business.