Speculation is growing that the 2nd Congressional District's own Greg Walden will go after the Republican nomination for governor in 2010, but at least one prominent Oregon Republican says a Walden candidacy would be "an almost certain disaster."
Writing on the Oregon Catalyst blog, Larry Huss, a lawyer, columnist and former Oregon head of US West, says Walden wouldn't stand a chance because of the "schism" within the state GOP.
Huss sees Oregon Republicans divided into three factions - the "social conservatives," exemplified by Kevin Mannix, who "dominate the party structure as witnessed by the high priority given to social issues in the party platform" but who display "a decided lack of focus, or perhaps understanding, of fiscal issues and government structure"; the "Gordon Smith Republicans who believe that the way to get elected in Oregon is to avoid difficult issues and pander to traditional Democrat constituencies such as the environmental community, the anti-war movement and the entitlements advocates"; and "the fiscal conservatives who eschew tax increases, demand government accountability and seek new solutions for our failing schools. That group is most often represented by a handful of state legislators - most often from Eastern and Southern Oregon."
"All of these groups mistrust the others," Huss continues. "Each competes with the other for issue priority and when they fail to win they tend to retire and withhold their active support. Until such time that these disparate groups are brought together under common leadership, the Republican ship will continue to founder."
Instead of encouraging Walden to embark on a "difficult and risky campaign" for governor, Huss says, the party faithful should want him "to remain in Congress and undertake the difficult task of repairing and re-uniting Oregon's Republicans."