That big "D" you often see next to Sen. Ron Wyden's name could stand for "detriment" instead of "Democrat" as far as the senator's popularity in Baker County is concerned.
The Republican "R" holds sway around here - 4,630 Baker County voters claim that party affiliation as compared with 2,861 Democrats.
(Another 2,105 voters have no affiliation, and 510 are registered under some other party.)
But Wyden isn't a typical Democrat.
During his 14 years as one of Oregon's two U.S. senators, Wyden has
shown a proclivity for, if not exactly defying his party, then at least
taking up causes which veer away from Democratic orthodoxy.
Which is why we recommend voters - including those aligned with that aforementioned "R" - re-elect Wyden for six more years.
Wyden's advocacy over more than a decade has been crucial in ensuring
that the federal government compensates Baker County for the drastic
decline in timber revenue that resulted, in part, from changes in
federal forest policy.
That money - several million dollars over the years - keeps snowplows on Baker County roads, among other important benefits.
Last year Wyden introduced legislation that aims to reverse that timber
trend and increase the amount of logging on public lands east of the
Although that bill has languished - also, we're not convinced it would
be as effective as Wyden believes - we can't fault the senator for
investing some of his political capital in an endeavor that's hardly a
priority for his party.
Sen. Wyden also crossed party lines to vote against the Wall Street
bailout two years ago, and although he did vote for the healthcare
reform bill this spring, he also angered many fellow Democrats by
suggesting a compromise version of the public option.
Ultimately, we appreciate Wyden's recognition that Baker County, though
statistically irrelevant in his quest for re-election, does indeed
matter, and that the needs of his constituents supersedes his party