Rep. Greg Walden (R)
Elected: 1998, 6th term.
Born: Jan. 10, 1957, The Dalles .
Home: Hood River.
Education: U. of OR, B.S. 1981.
Family: Married (Mylene); 1 child.
Elected office: OR House of Reps., 1988-94, Majority ldr., 1991-93; OR Senate, 1994-96.
Professional Career: Press secy., U.S. Rep. Denny Smith, 1981-84, Chief of staff, 1984-86; Owner, Columbia Gorge Broadcasters Inc., 1986-2008.
The representative from the 2nd District is Greg Walden, a Republican elected in 1998. He grew up on an 80-acre cherry orchard near The Dalles in the Columbia Gorge; his father ran radio stations that had been in the family since the 1930s and also served in the state House. Walden followed his father into both pursuits. As a young man, he was a disc jockey and talk show host. Then, he got involved in politics as the press secretary and chief of staff for Republican Rep. Denny Smith from 1981 to 1987. Walden returned to Hood River to run the family’s five-station broadcast business, Columbia Gorge Broadcasters. In 1988, he was elected to the state House, eventually becoming majority leader. He is conservative on economics but more moderate on cultural issues; he supports abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research, but opposes federal funding of abortions.
|Greg Walden (R)||236,560||(70%)||($1,646,853)|
|Noah Lemas (D)||87,649||(26%)|
|Tristin Mock (Green)||9,668||(3%)|
|Greg Walden (R)||83,087||(99%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (67%), 2004 (72%), 2002 (72%), 2000 (74%), 1998 (61%)
When the 2nd District seat opened in 1998 with the retirement of GOP Rep. Bob Smith, Walden ran and faced substantial primary opposition from Perry Atkinson, a Christian broadcaster who was backed financially by Gary L. Bauer’s Campaign for Working Americans and Americans for Limited Terms. Walden stayed competitive by raising $500,000 and prevailed over Atkinson with 55% of the vote. In the anticlimactic general election against a conservative Democrat, Walden won 61%-35%.
In the House, Walden has been an active legislator with a focus on a national issue with strong local implications—forest management. He played a central role in 2003 in assembling bipartisan support for the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, which was a legislative response to wildfires raging across the West from unlogged dry timber. He also successfully sought to reopen the flow of water to farmers in the Klamath Basin. Later, he pushed for legislation to expedite logging after natural disasters. In July 2006, the House passed his bill to expand the Mount Hood wilderness area, but the Senate did not act. Walden has worked to curb regulations under the Endangered Species Act by encouraging a greater role for outside scientists to review government proposals. In recent years, he also has tried to restore timber payments to rural counties, joining forces with home-state Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat.
In 2007, Walden was a leader of a coalition to stop efforts to restore the Fairness Doctrine in broadcasting, which forced broadcasters to offer views opposing those of their on-air commentators. The rule was abandoned in 1987, and liberals have pushed to revive it to counter the influence of popular conservative talk show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh. Recalling his own days in broadcasting, Walden told The Oregonian newspaper that it was difficult to figure out who qualified to offer opposing viewpoints when his father read editorials on the air, so the family stopped airing editorials altogether. Political chatter over the broadcast network tends to be conservative, he said, but that should not matter. “Is it more conservative than liberal? Yeah,” Walden told the newspaper. “Are there a lot more country-western stations than polka stations? Yeah. Listeners make these determinations. The marketplace decides.” Also in 2007, Walden was appointed by Minority Leader John Boehner to the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.
Walden has been re-elected easily. He has twice declined to run for governor, but may have another opportunity to run in this swing state in 2010. “Greg Walden will be governor of Oregon one day,” former Sen. Gordon Smith told The Oregonian.