After initially attending college on a basketball scholarship, Wyden earned a bachelor's degree and a law degree. He later taught gerontology at several Oregon universities. He won a seat in the United States House of Representatives in 1980, and then in the U.S. Senate in 1996.
Senator Wyden's home is in Portland, and he has an apartment in Washington, DC. He has two grown children, Adam (24) and Lilly (19), by his first wife, Laurie. Wyden married his current wife, Nancy Wyden (née Bass), the owner of New York's Strand Bookstore, on September 24, 2005, in a ceremony performed by Rabbi Ariel Stone of Portland. On October 26, 2007, Nancy gave birth to twins, Ava Rose Wyden and William Peter Wyden.
In January 1996, Wyden narrowly defeated state senate president Gordon Smith in a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Bob Packwood. (Smith was elected later that year to Oregon's other Senate seat.) Wyden now holds the Senate seat once held by his mentor, the late Wayne Morse—the last Democratic Senator from Oregon before Wyden's election. Wyden was elected to a full term in 1998, and in 2004, was re-elected to another full term, receiving 64% of the vote compared to 31% for his main opponent, Republican Al King.
He chairs the Energy Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests.
As of August 2007, Wyden has an approval rating of 58%, with 33% disapproving.
Wyden's voting record is largely consistent with his image as a fiscally moderate, socially liberal, pro-trade Democrat.
Wyden has consistently opposed a constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration. He has also publicly announced support for same-sex marriage and was one of only 14 Senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. He also voted against the 2006 proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage, and he has cast votes in favor of legislation designed to prevent job descrimination and hate crimes against homosexuals.
Wyden has stated personal opposition to physician assisted suicide, but has also stated a commitment to defending the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, which was twice passed by voter referendum. Wyden successfully blocked US Senate attempts to pass legislation interfering with the Act by threatening a filibuster. Wyden has also consistently voted against limitations on the use of the death penalty.
The senator has recently voted against restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba and also to end anti-Castro broadcasting to the country. However, in 1998, he supported a proposal that would uphold the status quo of American-Cuban relations.
Wyden has sponsored the Healthy Americans Act that would institute a national system of universal health care through market based private insurance. He has collected a voting record that shows he is in favor of public health care. Wyden has shown support for increasing Medicare funding, enrolling more of the uninsured in federal programs, importing lower priced perscriptions from Canada, and negotiating bulk drug purchases for Medicare in order to lower costs
In June 2007, Wyden was among the minority of Democrats to vote in favor of declaring English the official language of the United States
On November 10, 2005, Wyden was one of five Senate Democrats who joined 44 Republicans in voting "yes" on Amendment no. 2516, brought to the floor by Republican senator Lindsey Graham, which ruled that enemy combatants did not have the right to Habeas Corpus.
Wyden has been an outspoken opponent of the Patriot Act. On March 2, 2006, he was one of only 10 senators to vote against renewing the bill., citing concerns about privacy protections.
Wyden voted against the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, a Republican effort to restrict the number of class actions suits against businesses and the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, a bipartisan change in bankruptcy law designed to make if more difficult to file for bankruptcy and to make those in bankruptcy pay more of their debts.
Wyden wrote the Stop Arming Iran Act to ban the Defense Department from selling surplus F-14 parts and prohibit buyers who have already acquired surplus Tomcat part from exporting them. Iran is the only nation other than the U.S. to fly the F-14.
|Year||Democrat||Votes||Pct||Republican||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct|
|1992||208,028||77%||Al Ritter||50,235||19%||Blair Bobier||Libertarian||11,413||4%||*|
|1994||Ron Wyden||161,624||73%||43,211||19%||Mark Brunelle||Independent||13,550||6%||Gene Nanni||Libertarian||4,164||2%||*|
|Year||Democrat||Votes||Pct||Republican||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct|
|1996||571,739||48%||Gordon Smith||553,519||47%||Shilling||American Independent||25,597||2%||Gene Nanni||Libertarian||15,698||1%||Vickie Valdez||Socialist||7,872||1%||Lou Gold||Pacific||7,225||1%|
|1998||Ron Wyden||682,425||61%||John Lim||377,739||34%||Karyn Moskowitz||Pacific||22,024||2%||Jim Brewster||Libertarian||18,221||2%||Campbell||Natural Law||8,372||1%||Dean M. Braa||Socialist||7,553||1%|
|2004||Ron Wyden||1,128,728||63%||Al King||565,254||32%||Teresa Keane||Pacific Green||43,053||2%||Dan Fitzgerald||Libertarian||29,582||2%||David Brownlow||Constitution||12,397||1%||Write-ins||1,536||<1%|
**Packwood resigned in 1995, and the remainder of his term was filled by Wyden. The 1996 election was the January 1996 special election, not the general election in November 1996 (won by Wyden's opponent in the special, Gordon Smith).
SENATOR RON WYDEN AND CENTRAL OREGON BREWERS ON LOWERING FEDERAL TAXES ON CRAFT BEER TO STIMULATE INVESTMENT, CREATE JOBS.
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Interview: Senator Ron Wyden discusses his call for a new network system to protect the nation's communication and information infrastructures
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