Oregon’s District 2: Jamie and Goliath
In the political science classes I taught in San Diego, we discussed the duties and responsibilities of citizenship. I counseled my students that citizens must take specific actions in order to keep our country united and strong, and that to vote is an essential means to hold our elected officials accountable.
Not until my work with Service Member’s Legal Defense Network (as its Pacific Northwest leader) did conversations in those college classrooms transform into civic actions.
In 2008-09, I began lobbying senators and congress members in the Capitol to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy. What an eye opener, going from the textbook to application of our nation’s principles.
Rep. Greg Walden refused to see me and instead substituted a staffer — who told a retired female Navy captain and me that he had never met a gay or lesbian before meeting us! We advised otherwise.
The following year I again asked to speak with Walden, this time in Medford.
He again declined my request. His senior staffer informed me that Rep. Walden was “uncomfortable with the subject.”
The final House vote in 2010 to repeal DADT (HR 2965) was 250-175. One hundred and sixty Republicans voted “No,” including Walden, who chose not to talk to his constituent to hear her rationale for allowing gay and lesbian military members to serve freely and openly. Incumbent Rep. Walden’s modus operandi is not to speak to constituents who disagree with his positions; this past year he has held very few town halls, preferring the D.C. watch and favored groups.
On the other hand, our Democratic candidate, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, an energetic, savvy and moderate politician, has, in her 15-month campaign across the district, exhibited only willingness to listen to all constituents — regardless of their political affiliation or physical location.
An experienced politician, Jamie has shown us how to conduct a first-class campaign. Even with much less financing than Walden, she refuses PAC money, and relies instead on her 2,500 volunteers to spread her message throughout the district.
As of 30 June, 2018, receipts for Walden were $4,242,647; for McLeod-Skinner, $282,255. As of Oct. 10, 2018, McLeod-Skinner had raised $949,000 — a Jamie and Goliath match if ever there was one!
Even with the strong backing of a coalition of nonaffiliated, Independent and Democratic voters, Jamie is campaigning against tough odds.
Analyzing the 2018 Oregon 2nd Congressional District registered voter data, the picture looks like this: 354,327 coalition vs. 188,755 Republicans. However, “Republicans enjoy an 11-point advantage in registered voters in the Second. (This means that in previous presidential elections, Oregon’s District 2 results were 11 percentage points more Republican than the national average.) Nineteen of its twenty counties went for Trump in 2016.” — Portland Monthly, Aug. 14, 2018.
Walden portrays himself as a pragmatist willing to cross the aisle, yet in the Trump era he has voted 98.9 percent in line with the president. In 2017, as a ranking House member he was chief architect of a GOP plan to kill the current affordable health plan and gut both Medicaid and the Oregon Health Plan. One-in-five adults and 1–in-2 children in Oregon rely on Medicaid for health care coverage.
To re-elect Greg Walden for the 11th time is to back a ranking House Republican and an unswerving Trump supporter.
For all of the above, AND for his lack of support for policies to (1) alleviate the effects of climate change, (2) achieve reasonable gun laws for public safety, and (3) challenge wrong-headed decision-making in the Department of Veterans Affairs, the best way to hold Greg Walden accountable is to vote him out.
Registered voters, your civic responsibility is to educate yourselves about both candidates, especially during this critical midterm election. At a minimum, visit the candidates’ websites to learn more about crucial differences in the policies and values between Jamie and Goliath.
Jamie McLeod-Skinner will be an outstanding Oregon District 2 representative. Please Vote. Our future is in our own hands.
— Commander Beth F. Coye, U.S. Navy (retired) taught international relations at the Naval War College. She lives in Ashland.