Walden’s absence on the trail *may* be because he’s the architect behind the GOP effort to strip Americans of health coverage.
Supporters of Congressman Greg Walden are starting to wonder when his re-election campaign will kick in. They’ve been watching re-runs of Trump rallies on YouTube and waiting for their own Mr. Excitement to start drawing crowds out to Eastern Oregon cow barns and vacant shopping center parking lots. This year Walden even has an opponent to make fun of from the podium, but he’s been noticeably absent from any kind of public gathering. Seems he has a phobia about appearing where sneaky local reporters can jump out of shadows and ask him why he voted to get rid of the Affordable Care Act when so many in his district depend on it.
So far, all Walden’s been doing is boring his staffers half to death by attending meetings. Many meetings. Meetings with planning officials, meetings with elderly veterans, meetings with hand-picked concerned citizens, meetings with sheriffs, medical providers and community leaders. Although there are 219,918 voters in his district who are NOT one of the 187,643 registered Republicans there, Walden stays in his comfort zone, assured that most of the people he meets will be Republicans. CD2 has a long tradition of Republican dominance in positions of influence. The fact that CD2 Republicans believe everyone should have closets full of guns and carry at least one around at all times probably has nothing to do with that. Meanwhile, his beleaguered staffers mumble to each other in hallways about where the closest In-N-Out Burger might be.
Walden’s meetings follow a script. He expresses concern. He listens to officials’ concerns. He tells them about his latest legislation, and because few people actually know how legislation works in Congress, Walden convinces them he’s doing something about their concerns. Occasionally a television reporter will stop Walden outside the building for a chirpy interview which makes the evening news, where Walden is indistinguishable from a commercial for insurance.
Could it be this is actually Walden’s campaign? His opponent has already traveled 40,000 miles through the seventh largest Congressional District in the country, dragging her bed behind the Jeep she shares with her dog, penetrating deep into territory never before explored by a Democrat, attending picnics, parades, concerts, dozens of meet-and-greets, barbecues, and rodeos. While Jamie McLeod-Skinner wears out tires and shoes, Walden gets chauffeured from one air-conditioned office to another in friendly territory, talking to people duped into thinking he will get something out of the government for them and listening to some of those very same people complain about lazy welfare bums and immigrants who suck up their hard-earned taxpayer dollars.
Walden, a 20-year veteran of Congress, has amassed about $4 million dollars in his campaign fund, thanks to generous pharmaceutical companies, the NRA’s mutual admiration society, and a variety of friendly lobbyists who would rather not see him rely on his charisma, charm and wit to stay in office. Other than the occasional yard sign and a few television ads showing him – what else – attending meetings, he doesn’t appear to need it to run against an opponent who’s campaign contributions are often shaken out of a sock.
Walden could throw parties for everyone in his district with that money, and keep his staffers in In-N-Out burgers for the rest of their lives if he wanted to. But it seems he’s just smugly holding on to his money, in case a REAL opponent comes along: someone who’s maybe an engineer by profession, who knows high desert water issues, has a plan for recycling, affordable health care and education, ideas for job opportunities, who has the energy to comb the district, the courage to listen to people who disagree with her party, and the determination to actually get something done……….oh wait. That is his opponent: Jamie McLeod-Skinner.