PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Democrat Ron Wyden held onto his Senate seat to take a third full term in office, easily holding off a challenge from a Republican candidate who had largely financed his own campaign.
Wyden was a rarity among U.S. Senate Democrats — he never faced much of a challenge and coasted to a victory in a state where Democrats hold a 200,000 voter-registration advantage.
Republican Jim Huffman, a law professor, ran a campaign largely financed by personal loans and questioned climate-change data. Before his campaign, he defended bonuses for Wall Street executives, which Wyden's campaign used against him in a state struggling through economic problems.
Wyden returns to Washington with seats on the influential Finance and Budget committees.
In the U.S. House, two seats held by incumbent Democrats are up for grabs on Tuesday night, and a surprising challenge from a candidate with a tea party base could make the election interesting for a third incumbent.
Rep. David Wu has faced a tough challenge from Republican Rob Cornilles, a Tualatin business owner who has steered clear of social issues while promising to deliver jobs to the 1st District. Wu, a Democrat, is traditionally viewed as Oregon's most vulnerable incumbent, but has held his seat for six terms and won in 2008 by a landslide.
Wu's district is a tech-heavy slice of northwest Oregon that includes parts of Portland and all of Washington County. Against Cornilles, he's faced attacks on his votes for the stimulus and health care reform and remains unapologetic about them.
Wu has said the stimulus saved the economy from a depression, and views health care reform as an engine for job creation.
Republican Scott Bruun has challenged Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader on his votes for the stimulus and health care reform, but the race in the 5th District could hinge on Schrader's popularity in the state Legislature and Bruun's relatively low name recognition before the election.
Bruun did run for the U.S. House once before, in 1996 against Rep. Earl Blumenauer, but lost by a wide margin and now calls that race a "protest campaign."
Schrader, a centrist Oregon Democrat, was elected in the sweeping 2008 Democratic victories nationwide. In this race, he's had to distance himself from the party's establishment while still defending his votes with their largest proposals.
Bruun has been a fierce fundraiser late in the campaign. He has managed to make Schrader sweat by staying on message and repeating the largest Republican themes of this election: President Barack Obama's policies are bad for the economy and Democrats can't create jobs.
Both Wu and Schrader were expected to face challenges. Rep. Peter DeFazio, a 12-term incumbent, was not.
In Oregon's 4th District, a man who espouses tea party principles — even if he doesn't claim their support — has given DeFazio headaches. Republican Art Robinson, who said he didn't decide to run for office until just before the filing deadline, has used money raised from a New York hedge fund manager to launch ads and pay for yard signs that made what was supposed to be a quiet election into a real race.
DeFazio blames Robert Mercer, the hedge fund manager, for propping up Robinson's campaign in an effort to do away with DeFazio's attempts to institute Wall Street reforms.
Robinson has disputed that notion, and said the apparent viability of his campaign is because people are wary of the major legislation passed by this Congress.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.