We can't say we were surprised with word this morning that Representative Peter DeFazio shut the door - for the last time, apparently - on calls for him to run next year against Republican Senator Gordon Smith.
The Oregonian did quote him as saying, "This was not an easy decision. You don't get a poll that shows you're ahead of an incumbent senator and generous offers of support from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and just blow it off. It was a long and serious deliberation on my part."
So - next?
Democratic activist Steve Novick, the wonkish and sharp-tongued and witty ("hard left hook" is a neat line) political activist from Portland, has already announced; but as a first-time candidate (albeit plenty of experience in political circles) a number of Democrats are still looking for their nominee.
Attention turns next to Representative Earl Blumenauer, who represents the central Portland district and may be the most liberal member of the Oregon delegation. Blumenauer has made some moves in recent years toward statewide visibility (buying TV time in places like Bend, for example), and he's a solid and experienced campaigner - his years in electoral politics probably extend deeper than anyone now active as a candidate on the state or federal level. He would be a strong contender, and unlike DeFazio, he does not seem to have turned down the idea of a Senate (though he has apparently deferred to a DeFazio candidacy should it happen).
So, on the Senate front, watch Blumenauer closely in the next couple of weeks. He seems to be next at bat, and his self-imposed bar to deciding on the race is now removed.