DeFazio passes on Senate bid for second time

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) will not run for Senate in 2008, his campaign manager confirmed Friday.

DeFazio initially ruled out a bid in January, but after national Democrats moved strongly to recruit him in recent weeks, including issuing a poll showing him beating Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) 42-38, DeFazio said he would reluctantly consider running.

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Earlier this month, the lawmaker said he would decide by May if he would run, but he closed the door on joining the Senate race by telling the Portland Oregonian Friday that he “just did not feel that becoming a junior member of the Senate was going to allow [him] to serve as well and as effectively, particularly in the short term, as [his] current position.

“This was not an easy decision,” DeFazio continued. “You don’t get a poll that shows you’re ahead of an incumbent senator and generous offers of support from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and just blow it off. It was a long and serious deliberation on my part.”

Consultant Steve Novick is the only Democrat so far to declare for the race.

After having declared that he would yield to DeFazio if the lawmaker decided to run, Novick positioned himself as a “DeFazio Democrat,” after learning of the congressman’s decision.

“He might not be there, but the issues that he would have raised and the way he would have raised them, the people will still see,” Novick told The Hill.

Attention is now likely to turn to Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who was waiting for DeFazio to make a decision.