Ronald 'Ron' Lee Wyden
Telephone:202-224-5244 (Main phone number)
Telephone:503-230-7115 (Main campaign number)
Birth place:Wichita, KS
University of California - Santa Barbara
University of Oregon
Ron Wyden was born in Wichita, Kan., and now lives in Portland, Ore. He attended the University of California-Santa Barbara, and received a bachelor's degree from Stanford University and a law degree from the University of Oregon.
He was co-founder and co-director of the Oregon Gray Panthers, a senior citizen activist group, from 1974 to 1980, and director of Oregon Legal Services for the Elderly from 1977 to 1979.
Wyden represented Oregon's 3rd District in the U.S. House from 1981 until winning a special election to the U.S. Senate in 1996.
Wyden and his wife, Nancy, have twins. He has two children from a previous marriage.
Ron Wyden was easily elected to a third full term in November 2010 despite a Republican wave that swept Democrats from office around the country. He has maintained a reputation as a senator with solid liberal credentials but with a willingness to work across party and interest lines.
In late 2011 and early 2012, Wyden took heat from fellow Democrats and even from the White House when he teamed with Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin on a proposal to allow private companies to compete with Medicare. Wyden said the plan would guarantee Medicare's future, but critics said it would make the popular health plan for seniors "wither on the vine." The proposal went nowhere.
The criticism was intense, but it was familiar ground for Wyden, who has made waves before with bold ideas on the topic. His 2006 Healthy Americans Act was widely blamed for the eventual demise of former Sen. Bob Bennett, a conservative Republican who angered tea party activists by working with Wyden on the issue.
Wyden, a member of the Intelligence Committee, teamed with three other senators to demand a hearing into what they saw as a secret and expansive Justice Department interpretation of what information can be collected under the Patriot Act. Their request was granted in May 2011.
In December 2010, Wyden announced that he had prostate cancer and would miss late-session votes. Then 61, Wyden said the cancer was in its early stage.
He took a lead role in the Senate's response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig spill in the Gulf of Mexico, demanding along with Sen. Charles Schumer that BP suspend its dividend payments until the full cost of the cleanup efforts was known. BP agreed to comply in June 2010.
He drew attention when he and Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe won passage of a provision in the 2009 economic stimulus bill that they said would have blocked some excessive bonus payments given to executives of financial services companies. The provision was later watered down.
Wyden voted against the final version of President George W. Bush's 2008 financial system bailout, likening the measure to Congress' rush in 2002 to authorize the Iraq war, which he opposed.
Wyden helped derail a 2006 effort by Kansas GOP Sen. Sam Brownback to thwart Oregon's assisted suicide law. Wyden opposes the law personally, but said Congress has no business interfering with a policy that was endorsed twice by Oregon voters and later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
He worked on a 2003 compromise bill to speed up thinning projects in national forests to reduce the risk of wildfire. Environmentalists complained, but Wyden said the law should reduce the risk of wildfire while preserving public participation in forest decisions and protecting old-growth trees.
Wyden broke with his party to support a Republican Medicare reform bill in late 2003. He called the bill flawed, but said it would benefit more than 100,000 Oregon seniors.
Wyden worked to set aside as wilderness more than 100,000 acres near Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. The plan almost doubled the wilderness in Mount Hood National Forest while designating portions of four nearby rivers as wild and scenic. Obama signed the measure into law in March 2009.
Committee Assignments: Finance; Energy and Natural Resources; Select Intelligence; Special Aging; Budget
American Conservative Union Rating: 5
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 90
Recent winning percentages for office currently held: 57% (2010), 63% (2004).
(Last updated by Jonathan J. Cooper on June 25, 2012.)