Republican Cliff Bentz of Ontario won by a wide margin in the race for the open congressional seat representing Central and Eastern Oregon, voting returns showed.

Results from the 2nd Congressional District showed Bentz with 60% of the vote against 37% for Democrat Alex Spenser of Klamath Falls. Libertarian Robert Werch of Grants Pass had 3%.

“We’re leading — I have been cautiously optimistic from the start,” Bentz said from his home in Ontario. “I’ve had a good reception in all 20 counties of the district.”

Baker County is part of the 2nd Congressional District.

Bentz will be the only Republican among the two U.S. Senators and five U.S. House members representing Oregon. He said he had worked with U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Susan Bonamici, D-Beaverton when they were all in the Oregon Legislature together. He’s worked with U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden on state issues as well.

Bentz said he’ll seek a bipartisan approach to the state’s efforts to handle the COVID-19 virus and an economic recovery from the pandemic’s impact. The delegation can also work on wildfire recovery — about 2,400 homes were destroyed in Talent and Phoenix, near Ashland, part of the district. He also hopes to cooperate on a transportation legislation.

“I am happy to work with all of them,” Bentz said.

Bentz, 68, will retain a seat the GOP has held for 40 years. Retiring U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, has represented the district since 1999.

The district has 50,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats. Walden usually won re-election with over 60 percent of the vote.

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