Kari Chisholm has a forward-looking Blue Oregon piece on prospects in the Oregon 5th House district, one of two in the region (the Idaho 1st is the other) where a freshman will be doing defense.
As Chisholm notes, political wisdom is that the first run for re-elect is the best shot at taking out an incumbent; after that, it tends to get difficult. (A first-term takeout is how the Idaho 1st just changed hands.) So new Democratic Representative Kurt Schrader, who won by a substantial but not overwhelming 54.5%, is likely to be mid-level on the Republicans' target list.
He's logically on it partly because of his freshman status, because because White House parties tend to lose House seats in the mid-terms (as 2010 will be), and because the 5th district has plenty of Republicans and no lack of ambitious prospects. Some of them don't make a lot of sense, notably Mike Erickson, the businessman who has lost twice and imploded last year amid scandal-type headlines. Chisholm lists such other Republicans as a former failed congressional candidate (Jim Zupancic) and a slew of legislators (Vic Gilliam, Scott Bruun, Vicki Berger, Fred Girod) and one who has done both - former congressional candidate and current state Senator (mid-term in 2010) Brian Boquist, who just might be the overall politically strongest of the group. (We'll get into defending that evaluation later if it seems to have relevance.) But most of these people, and some others, could be credible congressional contenders. Schrader himself was a legislator too, a year ago.
Our sense is that Schrader will not be an easy target, though. The 5th district has a historically Republican cast, since its main population centers - Marion and Clackamas counties - have voted generally Republican in most elections for decades, up to the last few cycles. In the last two cycles, Clackamas seems to have moved clearly into the Democratic camp, and for a year now Marion has had a Democratic voter registration edge, a remarkable flip there. And while the the 5th voted for George W. Bush, it turned in 2008 to Barack Obama, whose percentage here almost exactly matched Schrader's.
Of course, all that can flip again, depending on how the news runs over the next year-plus. But at the moment, Republican prospects are reliant more on changing the dynamic than hoping to ride it. And that may influence the nature of the candidates ultimately interested in the race.