Patty in the News

Barack Obama, people figure, had a pretty good election.

So did Washington Sen. Patty Murray.

Which means, so did the Pacific Northwest. This week, it became official that Murray would become chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. Together with the ascension of Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden to the chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, it puts the Northwest in a considerably bolstered position in the Senate, stronger than it's held since Mark Hatfield chaired the Appropriations Committee.

But Murray's position is particularly strong because she can claim credit for any Democrat being a chairman. As chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, she was in charge of defending the party majority when it had to defend 23 Democratic Senate seats, and a year ago most pundits predicted a GOP takeover. Instead -- with a lot of help from some disastrous Republican candidates -- Democrats gained two seats, and Murray is now a Democratic Senate idol, along with being Budget chairman, a senior member of Appropriations, and the No. 4 figure in the Democratic Senate leadership.

A useful thing for the upper left coast.

"You take on challenges so you can be a strong voice for your state," said Murray in an interview Thursday. "If that means I can have a greater impact for my state and my region, whether it's Hanford cleanup or transportation, I think that's a good outcome."

And for the Northwest, a pretty good election.

- The Oregonian