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Oregon: Van Hollen Hints DCCC Prefers Schrader in 5th

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) indicated Tuesday that the DCCC might favor state Sen. Kurt Schrader over the other 5th district Democrats seeking to replace retiring Rep. Darlene Hooley (D).

Responding to a reporter’s question regarding the DCCC’s prospects for holding the competitively drawn Willamette Valley seat, Van Hollen talked up Schrader as a moderate who is a good fit for the district. Van Hollen did not mention any of the other Democrats running for the seat, including former gubernatorial aide Steve Marks.

“We have a very good candidate, Kurt Schrader,” Van Hollen said, during a news conference to discuss this year’s Congressional elections. “We think he’s in a very good position to move forward, because, like Darlene, he’s moderate, he’s a pragmatist.”

“As you know,” Van Hollen continued, “that district — that’s not a slam-dunk district for the Democrats. We think we have a candidate who fits that political profile very well. So, we’re confident we’ll be able to hold” the seat.

Republicans also have designs on the 5th district.

Former state Sen. Kevin Mannix, who ran for governor in 2002 and 2006, is battling for the GOP nod against 2006 nominee Mike Erickson, a wealthy businessman who already has dropped significant personal money into the race.

Oregon’s 5th district is one of the few Democratic-held open seats this cycle, and Republicans are optimistic about their chances of flipping it.

“The Republican registration advantage and the quality of our two candidates vying for the nomination makes this race a Republican pickup opportunity,” said Ken Spain, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Merkley Hits Airwaves; More Novick Ads Soon

State Speaker Jeff Merkley, locked in an unexpectedly competitive battle for the Democratic Senate nomination with attorney Steve Novick, went up this week with his first television spot of the campaign.

In a broadcast and cable television buy the Merkley campaign described as “medium level,” the state Speaker is being featured in a 30-second ad titled “Fighter” that “showcases Merkley’s passion for taking on the special interests to deliver change, protect a woman’s right to choose, and end the war in Iraq.”

Sources say Merkley purchased one week of airtime for the “Fighter” ad, spending approximately $89,000 to put the spot on in the Portland and Eugene television markets. Novick is scheduled to go up with another buy next week and is set to spend around $60,000 in the Portland, Eugene, Medford and Bend markets.

Merkley and Novick are facing off in the May 20 primary for the right to face Sen. Gordon Smith (R) in November.
— David M. Drucker

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