Note: This post combines and refines thoughts expressed in Letters to the Editor of the Hood River News (“Vote matters,” April 28, 2018; paper and electronic editions) and of the East Oregonian (“Choices abound to unseat Walden,” April 30, 2018; electronic edition)
Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) has represented Oregon’s second Congressional District (OR-CD2) since 1999. He should be replaced this November.
Mr. Walden and the Republican Party have changed. Their legislative actions and support of a chaotic and ethically challenged administration have failed the people of the District and the nation. They have abandoned ranchers and farmers in favor of big agribusiness; have enacted tax cuts grossly tilted to the wealthy and financially irresponsible; have crippled health care without a viable alternative; have installed further chaos in the VA; have over-deregulated the environment and financial markets at our peril; and have harmed our position of leadership in research and development, and thus the future of our economy and of our global leadership.
Seven Democrats seek to challenge Mr. Walden in November. Together, they form a credible and diverse field. Each deserves appreciation for stepping up to the plate. Each is arguably attractive in her or his way. Michael Byrne is genuine and funny, a true-and-true son of the District. Eric Burnette is articulate and compelling. Raz Mason is a breath of fresh air with a calm and reasoned message of inclusiveness. Jim Crary is right on his call for campaign financing reform. Jennifer Neahring has the best, most nuanced command of health care issues. Jamie McLeod-Skinner is experienced in government and her family’s rural roots might make a difference. Tim White is in great command of data and comes across as a no-nonsense big-picture thinker.
Who among the seven would best serve us in Congress? Who could best help bring us together as a community? Who could successfully challenge Walden?
The choice matters! Matters enough for a Non-affiliated voter like me to temporarily register Democrat to have a voice already in the primaries. Matters enough for every eligible voter to choose. Please get informed and vote. Make your voice heard!
But seven are too many candidates for the typical voter to track carefully. Seven are also likely too many for a single candidate to receive near or over 50% of the votes, and thus emerge the indisputable choice of this primary. That could weaken the winner when she or he takes on Walden.
Thus my plea to the candidates: You have studied your fellow candidates. You have debated them. You share many of their values. You have highlighted how different you are from them. You know them better than most voters. Now, you have a final choice to make. If you recognize another candidate as best positioned to represent the District if elected, consider using the influence you earned with your supporters to endorse that candidate.
Many votes have already been cast, and your name will remain on the ballot even if you endorse someone else. But many more votes remain to be cast by those, myself included, who will continue to listen until they achieve clarity of choice. Strategically narrowing the choices for such electors might determine the winner, and will certainly empower that winner for the grueling general election ahead.