If Wyden jumps to HHS, who runs for Senate?

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Well, as the chatter heats up about Senator Ron Wyden getting appointed as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, there's naturally been a lot of discussion about who would replace him in the Senate.

Of course, since we're piling hypotheticals on top of hypotheticals, it's all a bunch of wild-ass speculation.

But if you can't put wild-ass speculation on a blog, you can't put it anywhere... so let's have this conversation right here.

First, an important point, that many of our commenters have missed: In Oregon, we fill vacant Senate seats the right way - with a special election. None of that gubernatorial appointment nonsense as in Illinois, New York and New Hampshire. (Remember that that's how Wyden got the gig in the first place, back in January 1996, after Bob Packwood resigned in disgrace.)

Second, another important point: For a lot of politicos, the math is different when it comes to a special election. After all, they don't have to give up their current seat unless they win. So folks who might otherwise pass will take a hard look at running - if only to boost their statewide profile. (Unless they're on the Multnomah County Commission, which has a stupid rule about resigning your office if you run for something else.)

And finally: As you look over the names, remember this -- whether someone would run is a different question than whether that person should be a Senator, which is a far different question than whether that person could run a winning campaign.

So... without further ado. I present to you, a list of names. I've broken them into tiers - based on my own gut sense of the would/should/could math. (And within tiers, merely alpha order.)

Obviously, you're going to disagree with my selections and placements here. It's a quick brainstorm, and it doesn't mean anything, so don't take offense if your favorite candidate is missing or misplaced. I mostly want to spark a conversation.

Tier One
Earl Blumenauer
Peter DeFazio
Darlene Hooley
Ted Kulongoski

Tier Two
John Kitzhaber
John Kroger
Randy Leonard
Steve Novick
Barbara Roberts
Kurt Schrader
David Wu

Tier Three
Brad Avakian
Bill Bradbury
David Bragdon
Kate Brown
Susan Castillo
Peter Courtney
Dan Gardner
Jim Hill
Dave Hunt
Greg Macpherson
Rick Metsger
Ben Westlund

Tier Four
Phil Barnhart
Alan Bates
Eileen Brady
Peter Buckley
Jeff Cogen
John Frohnmayer
Sara Gelser
Mark Hass
Neal Keny-Guyer
Jack McGowan
Mary Nolan
Charlie Ringo
Arnie Roblan
John Russell
Jefferson Smith
Vicki Walker

Alright. Tell me what you think. Who did I forget? Anybody on the list jump out you?

Oh, and the Republicans? I'm assuming it would either be Gordon Smith or Greg Walden. If not, then Jason Atkinson, Ron Saxton, Bruce Hanna or Allen Alley could probably mount a decent run.

[A whole lotta people on this list are current or former clients of mine, but as always, I speak only for myself.]

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    Oregon Catalyst 2/5/09

    "Political insiders are confirming that State Senator R-Jason Atkinson will likely run for U.S. Senator D-Ron Wyden's seat if Wyden is chosen for President Obama's Health cabinet post."


  • Red Cloud (unverified)

    The choice had best be good. If Gordon were to enter the race, the dynamics are such that he could win. What an irony; what we gained in November, we could lose in May.

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    Why is it stupid that you can't run while holding Multno County office? Sounds like county residents get the benefit of officeholders not spending their terms running for something else...

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    Peter DeFazio would be the strongest candidate by far. Gordo would get a new chance to trash himself with garbage attack ads. DeFazio or Blumenauer get a shot at a senate seat without losing the one they have. I'm hoping Wyden won't do it. We don't need to open the door again for Gordo to get back to the senate.

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    And if a 4th tier state legislator can beat Smith as an incumbent, I think one of the party stars can beat him in a special.

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    What would be the timing of a special election? Would there be primaries?

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    Hooley, out. She retired from political life. Kitzhaber, out. Had a chance to run a number of times before.

    Your tier two seems pretty questionable. Can Kroger make the jump so quickly? Does Leonard have any sort of statewide shot? Is Barbara Roberts really ready to gear up for a Senate run?

    I'd really flip flop your Tier 2, where the real candidate is likely to come from, and your Tier 1, which just seems like a list of prominent Portlanders.

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    Sorry, make that flip your tier 2 and tier 3.

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    I think the Oregon Democratic bench is even deeper than you listed (expand tier 4 or make a 5th). We have lots of young, talented legislators who would make great Senators that are not on your list (what is the minimum age for a senator?). It is a big advantage in ultimately gaining seniority in the Senate to get someone in now who is young. I am also ready to see a generational change in Oregon leadership. The future presents challenges that some of our aging leaders just do not get. They are still fighting old battles, not focusing on the new.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)

    Hmmm...we could get Steve Novick to DC after all.

  • Admiral Naismith (unverified)

    Wot, not Kevin Mannix for GOP candidate? Can't we dream a little?

  • InTheBuilding (unverified)

    If DeFazio runs, I'd consider voting for someone else. His frontal attacks on the only politically feasible approach to addressing climate change make me sick to my stomach.

    DeFazio's legacy might be as the progressive who destroyed real action on climate change - which is sad, given that his heart's in the right place.

  • Garrett (unverified)

    If Wyden accepted the HHS nomination I'd personally hold a grudge for years if Gordo was able to slime his way back into a Senate seat. I'd be cool with Earl or DeFazio. Doesn't DeFazio want to run for Governor in 2010 though? I'd have to hold my nose to vote for Kulongoski, but I guess I'd do it if it was to keep out a Republican.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    I'm with Sam. DC is, after all, much more appreciative of crass liars and salacious scandals than provincial Portland. Or maybe Randy Leonard, unless he's not done yet with his role as Enabler-in-Chief.

  • J├Ągermeister (unverified)

    I'm with Sam. DC is, after all, much more appreciative of crass liars and salacious scandals than provincial Portland. Or maybe Randy Leonard, unless he's not done yet with his role as Enabler-in-Chief.

    Stop whining.

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    it took Merkley a full year and the Bush/economy catastrophe to overcome Gordo. no Dem with low name recognition is going to have that time, and that could be a huge obstacle. Earl or Pete would have a big advantage in that regard, not to mention big bases of support in Multnomah & Lane. the nice part about Earl getting the seat is making his seat open for Steve (the Hook for DC!), but Pete's politics are a bit more in line with mine (or vice versa). but there's also been chatter that he wants to leave DC?

    clearly the best solution of all is DOCTOR Howard Dean for HHS. the rest of it is then moot.

  • LT (unverified)

    Kurt Schrader is doing a good job in Congress--I saw him on CSPAN during a committee hearing.

    I don't want to lose a Senator AND my Congressman!

  • Michael B (unverified)

    I think Novick should be Tier 1, and he'd have a good chance to win. He'd probably beat Gordo, who is totally damaged goods at this point. Novick just ran for Senate and he could easily reconstitute his campaign. His showing was very strong, and he connected with many more power players and big donors in the state than most people expected... those folks were very disappointed when he narrowly lost to Merkley and they'd be thrilled to back him again. Also, the number of votes Novick got statewide was much greater than most of the folks on this list (most of these folks have never even run statewide).

    Hooley just resigned from Congress despite the fact that our party recently won the majority, so it would be a pretty amazing 180 if she decided to go back. Kulongoski -- maybe he would run and maybe he could win, but I doubt he's our strongest choice -- over the last several years he has only partially shedded his reputation as a do-nothing governor. Blumenauer has some potential but is not exactly a rising star.

    Also, I'd say you can remove from this list everyone who just made a big step up in the last election: Kate Brown, Kurt Schrader, Ben Westlund, John Kroger, and Jefferson Smith -- it would hurt their reputations to abandon the post they just asked voters to give them.

    I'd also say that folks who just lost statewide primaries in the last go-round, such as Metsger, Walker, and Machpherson would be likely to give it a shot.

  • Lani (unverified)

    I agree w/ TA that Dean would make a great HHS.

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    Kate Brown should be at least Tier 2, or even Tier 1. She could win it handily against even most of the other Tier 1 candidates, e.g. anyone but DeFazio. Unless of course she wants to be the next governor, which she could also become if she chooses.

    DeFazio could wipe the rest of the competition away and grab the seat with a wave of his little finger.

    Kitzhaber clearly has no interest in campaigning again for any office; and more power to him.

    I seriously doubt Blumenauer could win a state-wide office against anyone other than a Kevin Mannix or a Mike Erickson type opponent. He is seen as the embodiment of Multnomah County, for better or worse. Probably the same is true of Novick as well--not meant as a dig, just an observation.

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)

    I certainly think Mike Erikson, perennial contender for CD-5th, should run for the GOP nomination for a special election for US Senate; I know that's one race I'd strongly support him for. And I hope that he will run for Gov. too.

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    I'm with Michael--I think Novick ran a successful enough campaign against Merkley to move himself into Tier 1. Timing is important in elections, and this a time for a candidate like Novick. (Four years ago, absolutely not.) The Oregon GOP is decimated, and the competition would have to run burdened by the lack of ideas, the fissures within the party, and the institutional weakness of Republicans. Novick has more fire in his belly than anyone you currently have in Tier 1--excepting Earl. Actually, that's my first tier--Earl and Steve. DeFazio rocks, of course, but why would he run now if he didn't run in '08?

    I think Brad Avakian, despite a relatively low profile, would be a formidible dark horse. He's perhaps the most likeable politician in Oregon, which is great if you're running a dark horse campaign.

  • Renfro (unverified)

    Randy Leonard is a "Tier 2" candidate? ROFL! I wonder how his bio-diesel lawsuit against Ford is going?

  • Rob (unverified)

    Your proposal highlights that we need but do not have a deep bench state wide.

    State name recognition and accomplishments state wide can overcome any high budget advertising campaign.

    In the House and Senate seniority is king to Oregon's economic wellbeing owing to committee appointments.

    Let's get focused!

  • LT (unverified)

    Jeff, thank you for your last paragraph.

    As I recall, the 2008 Novick campaign put more reliance on ads than on grass roots organizing.

    Brad Avakian just won statewide AND is well liked. Novick carried Mult. Co. in the primary and how many other counties?

    Are there still people who believe that Portland connections, the wisdom of consultants, and ads that become conversation pieces are more likely to win elections than a candidate people like who has a grass roots / ground game organization?

    Does Novick really relish the idea of being the junior senator to the guy he very obviously did not like by the end of the primary season?

    Although, give Steve this---he was a lot more gracious after the primary than some of his supporters who are still refighting that primary.

    This is a free country. People were allowed to say they liked Obama when it looked like Hillary Clinton had the nomination sewed up the day she announced. In Oregon any citizen is allowed to like or dislike any candidate who ever ran in a Senate primary: Novick, AuCoin, Bruggere, Rust, Dwyer, Lonsdale, etc.

    Novick will not be elected to the US Senate just by his supporters want to call people names for saying what I said in the previous paragraph. He would need a ground organization, he would need to prove that he would be a better senator (positively prove, not just attack the opponent) than any office holder running against him. Steve is a bright guy. Attack me for saying he'd be better off winning lower office first, but then don't expect me to support him.

    I would say the same thing about John Frohnmayer--very bright guy in speaking to an audience, but did not understand grass roots organizing (or the time we saw him speak during his Senate campaign, he wouldn't have had just a small group of people in a large auditorium).

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    Jeff Alworth wrote: "DeFazio rocks, of course, but why would he run now if he didn't run in '08?"

    Perhaps DeFazio saw new blood on the rise (Novick and Merkley), and wanted to let them take the shot at Smith? It worked.

    Time for Senator DeFazio now? Or, hold out for governor? I'd be happy with either, so long as he stays in the game.

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    Kari, there's still time to change the header here: "Voters may get this thing and it would be effing golden."

    I agree with Jeff that either Novick or Avakian would be top-tier candidates if they decided to jump in. The strongest argument -- at least from a parochial perspective -- against a Wyden appointment is that Oregon would lose his leadership in Congress. I have little doubt that he'd be an inspired pick, but I also like where he is now. Either way, it's a good thing for our state.

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    In the case of a U.S. Senate vacancy, the governor gets to pick the date for a special election. If he sets it for less than 80 days out, the party central committees pick their candidates. If it is more than 80 days out, there is a primary.

    Although I still think it's a longshot, my guess is that the Democratic candidate would be Blumenhauer or DeFazio (if the latter even wants it), whether or not there is a primary.

    The Republicans are a little trickier. The likely choices are Smith or Walden. If the party picks, however, Smith might have trouble and Adkinson is a possibility. Atkinson might challenge Smith in a primary, but probably wouldn't challenge Walden.

    If I were betting today, I'd pick DeFazio v. Walden, although I think there is a real question whether DeFazio would trade his House seniority to become a freshman Senator.

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    LT, you recall incorrectly. It was Merkley overwhelmingly focused on ads and external support. Novick had a strong, statewide base of individual support from actual Oregonians.

  • a blue oregon regular (unverified)

    It was Merkley overwhelmingly focused on ads and external support. Novick had a strong, statewide base of individual support from actual Oregonians.

    TJ, do you see all the references to the Novick supporters who are still fighting the primary? They are talking about you. It's annoying when you keep fighting that fight.

    Seriously, you would do better by Novick if you would leave it alone, behave as graciously as he did, and distance your name from his. He's a good guy and he doesn't need to have people like you acting foolish on his behalf.

  • Jiang (unverified)

    It would just be dumb for him to jump. The question you should be asking is can you win a Senate seat without the kind of grass-roots work you saw with Jeff? Between Merkely's very familiar senatorial rhetoric and something as dumb as Wyden going to HHS, anyone with a brain will not be helping. As you've pointed out, the old hacks are spread pretty thin and are pretty hacky, and I don't mean sack.

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    Jamais wrote: Kate Brown should be at least Tier 2, or even Tier 1. She could win it handily against even most of the other Tier 1 candidates, e.g. anyone but DeFazio. Unless of course she wants to be the next governor, which she could also become if she chooses.

    Kate is fantastic, and would be a great candidate. I moved her down my list because I don't think she would run -- after all, she'd have to break her pledge to serve as SOS through 2012.

    That said, I acknowledge that there's all kinds of fuzziness about how I personally ranked 'em -- and I'm loving the discussion. Keep itup.

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    ARBOR, If you want to confuse fighting the fight with correcting erroneous information, be my guest. Why don't you tell LT to stop fighting her interminable jihad against Novick? Correcting the record isn't foolish, but carping anonymously at me doesn't exactly give you much moral ground. Keep your advice for someone who solicits it.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    It's fine if TJ wants to refight the primary. Look around the blogosphere and you'll see no shortage of snarky commentary from erstwhile Clinton supporters who are refighting that and also rolling out the epitaphs (written sometime last year) for the Obama Administration.

    I still say Sam Adams or Randy Leonard. Thomas Eagleton and I are behind them 1000%.

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    Sorry, the proper shortening would have been ABOR, not ARBOR. The corrected version does seem more fitting, phonetically.

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    I agree with others who have said the Congressman Pete DeFazio would be the the strongest candidate. He already has down-state ability to win, has the name I.D.

    Would he do it though?

    He has some descent juice where he is, being in a race with Al Franken if/when that debacle is resolved, for the lowest rung in the Senate seniority system might not be appealing enough to give up his shot at finally being in the majority in the House where he already has juice.

    Then again, he would not be looking at unseating an incumbent with with an $11 million plus war-chest and the resources of the LDS behind him. Plus, as others have noted, he would not be giving up a seat should he not win the race (a big factor indeed that would make him, or Congressman Earl Blumenauer, have a real downside if the win was not a sure thing).

    Blumenauer I could see running, but having a bit harder time outside Portland metro than DeFazio. The upside of that would be that I could easily see (and support) Novick then running to fill Earl's seat should Earl win the seat. I think Novick would be an ideal fit for Earl's seat.

    So I am conflicted on who I would prefer to see run as I think Earl in the Senate and Novick in the House would be great, but I think DeFazio would be a stronger Candice to get the win for Wyden's seat.

    I would expect Walden to get into this, since the same cushion that DeFazio and Blumenauer apply to him as well. I can also imagine being in the minority in the Senate vs. the House has a LOT of appeal for a GOP Rep. at this stage of the game.

    I think a battle royale between DeFazio and Walden for the seat is most likely.

    I also agree with the comments up-thread that many of the tier 2 belong in tier 3 or 4 and former Governor John Kitzhabber would more likely be gunning for his old job as Governor before he would take a bite at a Senate (i.e. D.C.) job which he has repeatedly shown no interest in (for the umpteenth time).

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    Posted by: Jack Roberts | Feb 6, 2009 11:50:59 AM If I were betting today, I'd pick DeFazio v. Walden, although I think there is a real question whether DeFazio would trade his House seniority to become a freshman Senator.

    Holy crap, things have truly changed since the election! Jack Roberts and I agree for the second time in as many days. (wry grin)

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    be a stronger Candice to get the win for Wyden's seat.


    Where the Beelzebub's zip+4 did that come from?

    I meant to type "candidate" of course.

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    lestatdelc sez: . . . The upside of that would be that I could easily see (and support) Novick then running to fill Earl's seat should Earl win the seat. I think Novick would be an ideal fit for Earl's seat . . .

    I have some issues with Novick, but I agree with lestatdelc that he is a good fit for the 3rd district. That said, Novick or someone else (credible) ought to run against Blumenauer in 2010 anyway. Nobody deserves a free ride in the primary, and Blumenauer has zero grass roots operation at this point.

    I don't think I'm just projecting my own opinion when I say Blumenauer's formidable name recognition and fund-raising juggernaut obscure the fact that he is out of touch with and unpopular among even Portlanders, let alone non-Portlanders. I know very few activists who are pleased with his performance over the past few years, his work on mass transit & bikes bikes bikes being exceptions.

  • Janus (unverified)

    Brad Avakian?

    He was beat by UNDERVOTES!

    Vicki Walker for United State Senator???

    Defazio, Brown, Kroger, and Novick, but please Ron stay in the Senate.

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    No, no no no no no no no.

    We need Ron Wyden in the U.S. Senate.

    -He is a reliable vote. With Ted Kennedy ill, we need his vote more than ever to pass crucial, progressive legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act (and even this stimulus, which is currently being gutted by center-right forces).

    -He is a key leader, sitting on good committees.

    -We finally got two Democratic Senators - let's not cough it up so quickly. I'm sorry, but betting we'd beat Gordon Smith again is like rolling the dice. We would probably do it, but I'd rather not take that chance.

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    Posted by: Janus | Feb 6, 2009 1:58:37 PM Brad Avakian? He was beat by UNDERVOTES!

    What the hell are you talking about?

    He withdrew from the SoS race when Kulongoski appointed him to be Commissioner of Labor and Industries before any voting took place in 2008. So can you please cite what election you are referring to in which these "undervotes" beat him please.

  • Lefty (unverified)

    Blumenauer will not run. He has stated numerous times that he is very happy where he is and it takes quite some time to maneuver your way onto the committees that he is on. I do not think that Wyden should take the position and believe that there are suitable individuals outside of Congress.

    Howard Dean would be a bad choice, as I understand it, as he and Obama have had past issues. What do people think about John Kitzhaber at HHS? I know that he does not have as great a background working with legislators but he has committed himself to health care reform after leaving office and does not have any known scandals that could hold up his nomination.

  • LT (unverified)

    TJ, I thought it was a mistake for Steve's campaign to put the "pants on fire" video on the front of the website instead of his excellent poverty video which took clicks to find. Constructive criticism was not wanted by the Novick campaign because they knew what they were doing?

    And old friend had no right to read BO and say of the Novickians "they don't have any idea how statewide campaigns are run" because the old friend had been involved in campaigns decades ago (the pre-blog era) and thus for all his involvement in the Democratic Party he had no right to say elections are won at the grass roots level? Unless Novickians approve we must not think of doing something that sounds intelligent and common sense?

    I saw Merkley during at an open town hall meeting (at a public venue, not someone's house) where he answered questions. I did not see Novick at such an event. But I should have voted for Novick anyway because TJ said so?

    I could tell you who was active in the Marion County Merkley campaign. I don't know if Steve had a grass roots Marion County campaign.

    Now if that is a jihad..............

    I agree with Ben D.

    I also agree with this

    Posted by: Jamais Vu | Feb 6, 2009 1:47:41 PM

    lestatdelc sez: . . . The upside of that would be that I could easily see (and support) Novick then running to fill Earl's seat should Earl win the seat. I think Novick would be an ideal fit for Earl's seat . . .

    I have some issues with Novick, but I agree with lestatdelc that he is a good fit for the 3rd district. `````````````

    With regard to outside influence, I'll gladly say DSCC should keep their nose out of Oregon elections (didn't they send staff in Jan. 1996 to help Ron get elected? ) if you will agree that the DSCC intervention in the 1996 Senate primary was as bad as what they did in 2008 if not worse.

    I had known Rust, Dwyer, Lonsdale for a total of over 20 years combined (had known Rust the longest) but there were Democrats who said once the primary was over all good loyal Democrats should forget they knew those 3 gentlemen and give their unquestioning support to Bruggere. I registered NAV because that was not the Democratic party I was active in for so many years.

    And yet, in 2008, we should all have supported Steve who had never been elected to public office but had worked on the Bruggere campaign or else the likes of TJ would call us names?

    I think that strategy did no favors for Steve Novick (who I have known since he worked at the state capitol).

    This is not the first time I have had to choose between people I had known for years in a primary, and it won't be the last. Now if that makes my comments "jihad" because I say something other than "Novick deserved to win the primary", tough luck.

    I have heard Kitzhaber and Avakian have expressed disinterest in living in DC and being in the cabinet.

    My first choice is still Dean for HHS and Wyden to remain in the Senate. If someone disagrees with that, they have the right to do so. They don't have the right to tell me I can't comment on the 2008 primary because only those who are still angry at the will of the voters in that US Senate primary election have the right to discuss it.

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    Kitzhaber has already said that he is not interested and is not being vetted for the position.

    I don't think the fact that two people have had pass issues is such a bad thing. It's good to have someone in a position who isn't there just to kiss the president's rear, but to call him or her when need be. We had too much brown nosing under Bush - we need intelligent people with expertise in the field to serve in these positions.

    I think Howard Dean would be a great fit for the position. He knows the perspective of health care from both an elected official's stand point as well as from a doctor's position. He also has some great ideas for universal health care.

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    Lefty, by problems with Dean, do you mean Obama carrying out the 50-State Strategy or the fact Rahm Emanuel doesn't care for Dean stealing his thunder? Obama & Dean would be a great team. Tom Harkin thinks so, andthe grassroots movement for his apppointment be starting g to look familiar to people soon.

  • Desert Donkey (unverified)

    I am truly confused by the assumption that Defazio is a strong statewide candidate. As a citizen in his district and a native of the dry half of the state, I dont see it. In eastern Oregon candidates from Eugene have to overcome the perception that they are probably flaky hippies. Defazio actually does things to reinforce that image, not counteract it. It sells to a certain segment of the Eugene population, elsewhere .. not so much.

    On the other hand, when Portlanders look at candidates from Eugene they start from the assumption that they are dealing with a small town rube.

    In a straight up fight Oregon politics favors those with a very strong Portland base (which will pull in many Salem/Eugene urban voters), but who is not offensive to rural voters (ie Barbara Roberts, but not Earl), or someone with strong presence and high profile from outside the urban Willamette Valley (maybe Ben Westlund, Kulongoski,Kitzhaber).

    I hope Wyden stays put, as I have little doubt that we dont have a strong statewide candidate available, and the Republicans have at least one, Gordon. I dont like it, but that is how it looks.

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    Posted by: Desert Donkey | Feb 6, 2009 6:17:02 PM I am truly confused by the assumption that Defazio is a strong statewide candidate.

    Do you think the DeFazio will do better or worse in your district than Merkley did?

    If DeFazio wins your district, Wu's district (highly likely) an Blumenauer's district (a gurantee) the rest of the state could vote 100% against him and he would still win in a route.

  • LT (unverified)

    Desert Donkey,

    Don't go making this assumption:

    "In a straight up fight Oregon politics favors those with a very strong Portland base (which will pull in many Salem/Eugene urban voters),"

    If you doubt that Salem voters automatically vote the way Portland votes, look at some recent election results. Lots of anger in the mid-valley over Portlanders telling Salemites what to believe in, who to support, what is important, etc.

    And for all those of you still fighting over whether Novick should run for Wyden's seat should Wyden go to HHS, Jeff Mapes has an item about that which Kari posted here.

  • Desert Donkey (unverified)

    LT, Agreed. As I said, many, not all. And your point about anger at Portlanders is one of the factors in my general point. It is tricky to bridge the divide or at least avoid alienating a significant block.

    lestatdelc, Yes he is popular in Eugene, against Blumenauer or Novick, for instance he would not win in PDX or surrounds IMHO. I also think his margin in suburbs against Smith would be slim and he would lose solidly in Bend, Medford, K Falls, Hood River, the Coast and eastern Oregon. It is possible if he were the only Democrat in the race that he would carry a big enough margin in PDX to overcome his weaknesses elsewhere. Against many others on the list he would lose PDX. His treatment of the early economic recovery votes (pre Obama) smacked of the sort of symbolic, tilting at windmills, approach that becomes hard to explain in a statewide race. Symbolic liberalism is a core part of politics in Eugene, but it comes back to bite those who try to go statewide.

    When is the last time a Democrat from Eugene won a statewide major office? Even Bob Straub (yes I am that old) and Kulongoski are from other parts of Lane County. Yes, I know that Pete lives in Springfield, but nobody ever mistook him for a logger, blue collar guy; he isnt Eugene to the core, but he is a creature of the local scene in a way that Straub never was.

    Is it hopeless? No; under certain circumstances he becomes the best choice available. Maybe he can spend some time studying Obama's methods of no nonsense, pragmatic, liberalism and shake some of the Country Fair mystique.

    By the way, it pisses people off in Bend,Salem, et al when you say that Portland can elect whoever they want. We should not bend to the whims of the minority in rural Oregon, but we should respect their perspective and franchise nonetheless.

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    I am truly confused by the assumption that Defazio is a strong statewide candidate. As a citizen in his district and a native of the dry half of the state, I dont see it. In eastern Oregon candidates from Eugene have to overcome the perception that they are probably flaky hippies.

    Eastern Oregon is irrelevant for a Democratic candidate in a statewide race. Any Democrat wins CD 3, basically splits CDs 1 and 5. The Republican wins CD 2.

    Recently, strong Republican candidates have won CD 4 but DeFazio would win it--probably big. Ergo, he wins statewide against any Republican I can imagine.

  • LT (unverified)

    D Donkey---glad to know you are as old as I am.

    Jack, first of all there may be no opening (Congresswoman Rosa De Lauro is a new name being talked about).

    Second of all, Dan Lavey was right over a decade ago---the fastest growing party is no party at all. Measure 65 may have lost, but what candidate would be stupid enough to say something like "I only want partisan votes--if you voted for Measure 65 I don't want your vote"?

    Is anyone really going to win a future statewide election by dividing voters into CDs and saying some matter and some don't?

    A growing number of individuals regardless of party think the Kulongoski-Saxton race was an insult to our intelligence. The goal should be to impress the ordinary folks, not the political junkies on blogs like BO.

    For instance, http://www.statesmanjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009902040367

    is by a local columnist who often writes about topics other than politics :

    the GOP wants the pockets-picked-clean taxpayers to take what little savings they have left under their mattresses and turn it over to the building/construction industry.

    The plan is flawed for many reasons.

    First among them is that it assumes taxpayers still have savings.

    Millions of Americans who have played it straight and have been saving for decades have watched the past two years as their investments and savings accounts have shrunk, their housing equity has diminished, their credit-card interest rates soared and their prospects for holding a job until retirement wither, or worse, die.

    Resurfacing kitchen cabinets or adding double sinks in a bath isn't on their radar. <<

    The real leaders among House Republicans may seem to many to be the Reps. from Dist. 56, 57, 58 (Garrard, Smith, Jenson) rather than the anti-tax types who opposed the Senate passed stimulus with a plan which didn't have the details like funding worked out. The days of Minnis and Scott are over and it is time to admit that.

    And about this nonsense that Portland decides all races so the rest of us don't matter-- Why did it take 12 years to defeat Gordon Smith and 16 years to regain Oregon House majority?

    Maybe because Portlanders don't know everything?

  • b (unverified)

    I'm thinking some of the names on this list only are so, because they are or were clients of Kari's.

    What have these people done to be on the list to begin with? Some, it's obvious but others, is it because they have a certain political bent or because they are truly valid candidates? I'm thinking the former.

    It's time to broaden our horizons. Think outside the box of typical political hacks. Many of the problems we're now facing, IMO, are because we keep electing the same people. People that frequently are good at marketing themselves but have very little experience outside the political bubble. If someone posts on BlueOregon enough does that make them qualified for office? Lars Larson's particular brand of blathering is more offensive than those here but he wouldn't be considered a legitimate candidate even if he lived in the state.

    Just because someone offers a good soundbite doesn't make them qualified. We've got some really difficult times ahead of us. Perhaps we should be looking at people with a modicum of financial sense and experience in something other than politics.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    Hooley, Kulongoski, and Barbara Roberts probably aren't realistic possibilities, as people in their late 60's or 70s typically don't take on a senate race. Most senators have to serve at least two full terms before they have real power and influence, and , although there are some like Thurmond and Byrd who have stayed in for life, they were relatively young when they started.

    I consider Steve Novick to be tier one. He came out of nowhere to energize activists and ran a strong grassroots campaign that was nearly successful. I would say in terms of name ID and activist support, Steve is currently at the top of the pile. I think Bradbury should be tier two or one, although he seems to have his heart set on running for governor.

    I hope that Wyden stays put, in part because he is a good senator with some seniority, but also to avoid the bloodbath that could occur in a special election. With U.S. Reps able to run without giving up their seats, there is a strong likelihood that at least two would run and potentially (likely) engage in a negative race, which is what happened in the '95/'96 race to replace Packwood. There is a good chance that other Ds would run, too, while I think the Republicans would clear the deck for Smith and he might be in a stronger position than he was last year.

  • J Loewen (unverified)

    I could vote for either Demo Congressman. Hooley is retired and done. If the Gov runs then the D doesn't get my vote. I hope Wyden stays. OR doesn't need two First termers. Senority is still important in Congress

  • zach (unverified)
    <h2>randall edwards?</h2>

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