In our post yesterday on the emerging (ever so gradually) Oregon U.S. Senate race, we noted that state Senator Alan Bates, D-Medford, has been mentioned as a Senate prospect but hadn't much indicated whether he actually was interested.
Turns out he is. Today, Blue Oregon has pulled together material from the Ashland Daily Tidings and other sources about Bates' interest in the race, which is evidently quite real. The Tidings reported "Bates said he's been considering a run against Smith, Oregon's two-term junior United States senator, for six months, but said he did not want to announce his interest prematurely, hoping that 'somebody with a better chance and who was better known' would emerge." He went public after the last of the Democratic U.S. House members said they didn't plan to run.
Bates described himself as a "dark horse," and that may be good positioning, but his assets are stronger than that suggests. He is an experienced candidate, running strongly in areas where his party is not in the majority, and certainly not running as a Republican-lite candidate; it helped that in the Medford area he was a well-known public figure and professional leader long before entering the legislature. He became third in line in Senate Democratic leadership - almost immediately after moving from the House to the Senate. He has good campaigning presence and skills. He's respected as a legislator, and at Salem has taken on some highly ambitious projects (including, with fellow Senator Ben Westlund, a health care plan in Senate Bill 329 that could be the most important single piece of legislation in the Northwest this decade - if it passes).
And his rhetoric is clear and strong: His blasts at Smith over Iraq, for example, is all a Democrat would want of a Senate nominee.
He said he will announce a decision shortly after the legislature adjourns (which is expected for late June).