If Harry Lonsdale thought building a $5 million business was hard, that was before running for a U.S. Senate seat in Oregon.

While Lonsdale was the expert in his company, the campaign trail finds him seeking advice on issues ranging from abortion to Medicaid. Leadership now is a fuzzy art requiring "a delicate juggling act between leading and bending with the consensus."

But this CEO's time as a company builder isn't for naught. "Lonsdale has credibility because of his proven track record building a company," says one local political observer. "Voters respect that."

-- Elizabeth Conlin