In Oregon, Democratic challenger defeats Republican incumbent

Other News Materials 6 November 2008 23:24 (UTC +04:00)

Democrat Jeff Merkley has ousted Republican Sen. Gordon Smith in the northwestern state of Oregon. It's a victory once considered unlikely against a moderate incumbent who had highlighted his efforts to work

across the aisle in hopes of surviving a wave of anti-Republican sentiment, the Associated Press reported.

Smith's loss is the first for an incumbent Oregon senator in 40 years. It means Democrats are poised to have at least 57 votes in the Senate next year. He had been the last Republican standing in the three mainland Pacific Coast states.

Smith spokeswoman Lindsay Gilbride said the senator called Merkley on Thursday morning to concede. By then, about 82 percent of the vote had been counted and Merkley led by more than 40,000 votes.