Almost all of Oregon's Democratic top tier now has taken a pass on a run next year for the U.S. Senate, with the announcement today by Representative Earl Blumenauer that he will stay put. From his political/campaign site, about deciding not to taken on Republican Senator Gordon Smith:
My issues, from ending the Iraq war, stopping global warming, making sure everyone has health care they can afford, a quality education, and a good job, have gained not just attention, but traction and even momentum. My committee assignments put me in the best possible position to deal with these priorities everyday. I’ve been working for over a decade to get on the Ways and Means Committee and to regain a Democratic majority. I say with January both of these dreams become a reality. Speaker Nancy Pelosi also chose me to serve on the new Global Warming and Energy Independence Committee.
At this unique moment in history there is too much work to be done in the House of Representatives to take on a campaign for the US Senate.
The winning candidate should devote 100 percent effort for the next 18 months to overcome the onslaught that will come from the incumbent, Karl Rove and the Bush White House, and the many special interests who want to keep Smith in office.
Understandable, and similar to the logic keeping the other Oregon Democratic House members where they are. Smith was helped immeasurably by the Democratic takeover of the House last November.
The only undeclared in our estimate of the Democratic top-tier prospects, state Senator Ben Westlund, D-Tumalo, is widely rumored to be planning a run at state treasurer instead. The only Democrat now in the field, activist Steve Novick, is smart and sharp-tongued but also acerbic and a first-time candidate whose fundraising prospects are unclear.
Other possibilities? On the national Daily Kos, blogger mcjoan points to state Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown, D-Portland; we'd call that an interesting prospect, and her legislative skill and energy are solid, though the transition from a south-central Portland district to statewide may be a little tough. House Speaker Jeff Merkley, D-Portland, would also be a credible prospect. Another name mentioned recently (not, so far as we can tell, by the principal) is Senate Majority Whip Alan Bates, D-Ashland, a physician elected and highly popular in a politically mixed district, and bringing some strong campaigning and legislative skills to bear. (He has been working with Westlund on an ambitious statewide health care plan.)
Overall, though, between Blumenauer's announcement and the endorsement from the state's Indian tribes, this has been a good political week for Gordon Smith.