Yesterday Rep. Peter DeFazio announced that he will not challenge incumbent Sen. Gordon Smith. This leaves Oregon Democrats struggling to find a viable candidate, which will not be an easy task now that a sitting Congressman, who led Smith in the polls, has declined. So desperate for DeFazio was the DSCC that it had offered him $5 million for the bid.
Now, some Democrats seem resigned to settling for Steve Novick, an unknown who would have such long odds that he would get no support from the national Party. Novick has already declared his candidacy, perhaps suggesting that he does not expect any of the state’s elected Democrats to make a bid. If he is left as the default Democrat candidate, this race immediately drops off the radar screen.
The other possibility is Rep. Earl Blumenauer, one of a very few members of the House who may actually be too liberal for Oregon. Early Bluemenauer v. Smith polling will likely come out within the next couple of weeks, and that will give some indication of whether he would consider giving up his safe House seat to launch an underdog campaign against a strengthening incumbent. Unless Blumenauer is within at least 15 points from the get-go, such a bid is unlikely. Look for the Democrats to yet again beg and plead with a potential candidate to enter the race, only to see yet another opt out.
Democrats had considered Smith among the five-member top tier of endangered Republicans. It looks like they may need to reassess.