Our opinion: Ron Wyden is an easy choice for voters
Oregon voters have many difficult decisions to make in the Nov. 8 general election. The race for U.S. Senate is not one of them.
Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat, holds one of the most powerful positions in the U.S. Senate. He has championed initiatives that directly improve the lives of everyday Oregonians. He has worked across the aisle with Republican colleagues when appropriate. And he has made every effort to stay in touch with his constituents by continuing his practice of holding a town hall meeting in every Oregon county each year — even during the difficult months of the pandemic.
Wyden faces token opposition in this election from Jo Rae Perkins, a Republican who has run unsuccessfully for several offices in the past. She is best known for having challenged and lost to U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley in 2020, and for reportedly dabbling in the Q-Anon conspiracy theory.
Putting those concerns aside, Perkins lacks the relevant experience to be considered a serious candidate for the U.S. Senate.
But it's not just the lack of a credible opponent that leads to our endorsement of Wyden. During his most recent six-year term, he compiled a record of practical achievements. Healthcare has long been his strong suit, and Wyden championed the Children's Health Insurance Program, winning an extension of CHIP funding through 2027. At the other end of the age spectrum, Wyden secured an annual $2,000 out-of-pocket cap on prescriptions for seniors on Medicare, and he helped give Medicare the authority to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies over prescription drug prices.
Also in this term, Wyden worked with Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho to stop the self-defeating budget practice known as "fire borrowing," which had forced the U.S. Forest Service to raid fire-prevention and other forest-health accounts when wildfires broke out. Instead of using those dollars as intended — to prevent fires — agencies had been using them to fight fires. Now, the prevention programs once again are fully funded. The policy change promises to improve forest health and reduce the number of fires that threaten communities and damage quality of life throughout the West.
We can give Wyden disproportionate credit on many of these issues because of the seniority he has accumulated in the Senate, where he has served since 1996. Currently, he is chair of the Senate Finance Committee, a coveted position that gives him influence over a wide swath of federal programs and policies, including taxation, Social Security, Medicare and trade. If Democrats retain Senate control, Wyden will remain in that role. If Republicans gain a majority, Wyden will become the committee's ranking member, but still have more clout than any newbie senator could ever hope to attain.
Wyden says tax reform is among his next priorities. We are confident he will consider Oregon's unique needs if reform efforts materialize in a divided Congress.
This particular race won't be close, but it is nonetheless worthwhile to evaluate the performance of the people who represent Oregon in Washington, D.C. On that basis, Ron Wyden certainly deserves re-election to the U.S. Senate.
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