Ron Wyden is a Jewish American politician and currently the senior Senator representing Oregon.
Wyden was born in Wichita, Kansas, on May 3, 1949, to parents who had both fled from Nazi Germany. He grew up in Palo Alto, California, and later attended the University of California-Santa Barbara on a basketball scholarship. He transferred to Stanford University during college and graduated from there. Wyden earned his law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1974, and worked as director of Oregon Legal Services for the Elderly and co-director of the Oregon Gray Panthers, as well as being appointed to the Oregon State Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators.
Wyden ran for the House seat in Oregon’s 3rd congressional district in 1980. He won with 71% of the vote. Wyden was reelected seven times, never dropping below 70% of the vote.
In January 1996, Wyden narrowly defeated Oregon State Senate President Gordon Smith in a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Bob Packwood. Smith won a separate November 1996 Senate election to succeed the retiring Mark Hatfield. Wyden was elected to a full term in 1998 with 61% of the vote, and in 2004, was re-elected to another full term, receiving 64% of the vote. In 2010, he was re-elected with 57% of the vote and won again in 2016 with 56% of the vote.
In the Senate, Wyden takes on a heavy workload, serving on five important committees that deal with issues important to Oregon families -- the Budget Committee; the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee; the Energy & Natural Resources Committee; the Environment & Public Works Committee; and the Special Committee on Aging. Senator Wyden is also a member of the bi-partisan Senate Reform Task Force.