The race for the Republican nomination for Greg Walden’s U.S. House seat is filled with a host of contenders—many of whom have served in the Oregon legislature. While some of those candidates have provided some colorful—and amusing—political theatre during this time of quarantine, it is in one of the less-flashy candidates that we find ourselves seeing the most promising candidate. Jason Atkinson has served in both the Oregon House and Senate, during which time he proved himself not only willing to reach across the aisle to work with people of various political ilks, but also to advocate for positions that might not be popular politically.
- Jason Atkinson for Congress
When asked whether he would support a national vote-by-mail system, Atkinson said he would be in favor—setting himself apart from the other Republican candidates in the race. While that decision may ultimately fall to the individual states, why anyone in a state such as Oregon—which has seen the successes of vote by mail and has been a pioneer in offering it—would fundamentally disagree with vote by mail is beyond us. In the handling of the contentious issue of the Klamath River Basin, Atkinson has also shown the ability to bring together various stakeholders, and to work outside party lines.
Atkinson also appears ready to lead from the middle on a number of other issues facing Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District—including understanding the complexities of forest management, and appearing ready to approach health care reform in the wake of coronavirus. To be sure, Atkinson aligns with his party on a host of other issues, including firearm background checks, advocating against universal background checks, like the other candidates in the race.
In this vast district, encompassing all of Central and Eastern Oregon as well as Medford and Ashland, candidates are hailing from all over the district. In the case of Jimmy Crumpacker, they’re even hailing from the Portland area. While members of Congress are not required to live in their districts, we find it especially irksome to have Crumpacker, who himself admitted he’s “lived” in the district for just one year after purchasing a purported vacation home near Bend, to try to slide in and attempt to lead here—a district he can hardly claim to know—and to concurrently ram his overblown and frankly comical “gun packin” message down TV viewers’ throats. If there was ever a case for getting money out of politics, this is an example.
This district is also home to Knute Buehler, the former lawmaker, Bend resident and former gubernatorial candidate who has emerged as arch enemy number one to Crumpacker. While we have endorsed Buehler in races in the past, we find it hard to do so now—largely because he has completely flipped in his approach to the President. In a time when many are seeing the error of putting a morally bankrupt businessman in the White House, Buehler has, during this Republican primary, gone the opposite route, laying down in supplication to Trump, after blasting him in years past. It makes us wonder what other issues Buehler will flip on, should he become a member of the U.S. House.
Also running from Bend is Justin Livingston, a sitting Bend city councilor with whom we and many of our readers are familiar. While we have been impressed with Livingston’s preparation and poise in this campaign, we believe him to need more experience for a race of this caliber.
We also saw much promise in Cliff Bentz, a former Oregon state lawmaker, attorney and Eastern Oregonian. While our editorial board saw in Atkinson a candidate who would be better at representing both sides of the political spectrum, Bentz has also proved himself a competent, measured lawmaker who would undoubtedly be a solid representative for the district.
Voters will have a lot of choices on their ballots in this Republican primary, but Atkinson is our pick. Vote Jason Atkinson for U.S. Representative in the 2nd District Republican primary.