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What's the Matter with Oregon?

Why hasn't Republican law professor Jim Huffman gained traction in his race against Senator Ron Wyden?

12:00 AM, Oct 16, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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"I'm really a small-l libertarian, in most respects," says Huffman, noting that he supports civil unions. Though he personally thinks abortion should be legal, Huffman opposes federal funding and says, "I think the states ought to decide it. I think Roe is a bad decision. ... I think most left and right constitutional law professors in the country would agree with that.” On judges, Huffman says "elections have consequences," and he probably would have voted for Sotomayor and Kagan, as well as Alito and Roberts, though he prefers the latter two.

Huffman certainly has his work cut out for him with a little more than two weeks until the election. Wyden is a pretty popular senator. According to the Rasmussen poll, his favorability rating is 55% (38% very favorable, 17% somewhat favorable), and his unfavorable rating is 38% (14% somewhat, 24% very). "It would take a significant investment in all media markets to drive those negatives to where they need to be to make Wyden vulnerable," says one GOP strategist. True enough. Money spent on a long shot in Oregon can't be spent on races that are neck-and-neck--Washington, West Virginia, Nevada, Colorado, California, Illinois.

But if you're going to compete in the next tier of states, wouldn't it make sense to throw money at Oregon? Joe DioGuardi trails Kirsten Gillibrand by 16 points in New York, but it would cost much more to go on air in the Empire State. Linda McMahon already has enough money to saturate the airwaves in Connecticut. Christine O'Donnell, down 17.6 points in the RCP average but just 11 in Rasmussen, already has high name recognition and $4 million of her own money raised online.

It's unlikely that Huffman will beat Wyden, but in a wave election, it just might be worth taking a shot on Oregon.

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