Greg Walden has effectively advocated for the beliefs of a majority of his constituents during his nearly 21 years representing Baker County and the rest of the 2nd Congressional District, which covers all of Oregon east of the Cascades. Walden announced Monday that he won’t run for a 12th term in the 2020 election.
Some examples that illustrate Walden’s support for the interests of his district:
• In 2012, when the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest proposed to ban motor vehicles from about 3,600 miles of roads, Walden, responding to widespread opposition, including from Baker County residents, sent a letter to Forest Service officials urging the agency to withdraw the proposal. That happened about a month later.
• Walden has been a consistent advocate for various legislation, some of which has become law and some that hasn’t, intended to reduce the wildfire danger on public lands in his district and across the West, in part by increasing the amount of commercial logging.
• In 2008 Walden, to the chagrin of some Republicans, voted for the $700 billion financial bailout bill, in part because it included an extension of the federal program that compensates counties, including Baker, for the loss of property tax revenue due to large amount of federal land within their borders (the feds don’t pay property taxes). That program is crucial to Baker County’s ability to maintain its roads.
• Walden has staunchly defended Ash Grove Cement Co., a major employer in Baker County, against proposed federal emissions standards that put the Durkee plant in jeopardy.
• Walden has been a leader in Congress in working to curb the epidemic of opioid abuse.
Some Republicans worry that Walden’s retirement creates an opportunity for a Democratic candidate to represent the 2nd District for the first time since 1980. But Walden’s record of easily winning re-election is strong evidence that District voters will send to Washington, D.C., a Republican who respects, as Walden has, their values.
— Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald editor