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Medford Councilor Stine to challenge Sen. Ron Wyden

Medford City Councilor Kevin Stine has jumped into the Democratic primary race against U.S. Senator Ron Wyden.

“Some of Wyden’s votes run against Democratic values,” the 29-year-old said.

Referring to himself as a progressive Democrat, Stine sent in his papers to the federal government Wednesday and expected them to arrive sometime Friday.

When he was elected to City Council in 2014, Stine had no political experience.

Born in Medford, Stine moved at an early age to Oklahoma, where he completed high school. He moved back to Medford in December 2013 with his wife, Casey, and they are raising a young daughter.

Wyden, 66, has typically secured about 70 percent of the vote in previous elections since he first took office in 1996.

The only Democrat to file in the primary so far, Stine said Wyden’s strong showing can be attributed to conservative Republican challengers who don’t stand a chance of winning in a blue state.

Stine said he has unique life experiences that will serve voters better than those of a career politician.

“I would put my history above someone who might be older,” he said.

He said he remembers his mother, who was on welfare, telling the children not to answer the door or the phone for fear a bill collector would come knocking.

“I was a mac-and-cheese and ramen noodles guy,” Stine said. “It was all we could afford.”

He enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was 18, serving more than nine years and completing three deployments on submarines.

He is pursuing a political science degree at Southern Oregon University. Other than his military service, Stine has held only one job — as a delivery driver for a Chinese restaurant.

Stine said he describes himself as to the left on social issues, believing people should have free choice without government interfering in marriage or a woman’s right to choose.

On fiscal issues, he said he is more conservative.

He said he would attempt to tighten up defense spending. After being in the military, Stine said he remembers that at this time of year every single squadron is spending “ridiculous amounts of money. It’s the use-it-or-lose-it mentality.”

He said he wants to close up corporate loopholes to prevent U.S. corporations from buying a foreign company and then declaring they are no longer an American corporation to avoid taxes.

Stine gives Wyden credit for being consistent in standing behind various issues even if they put the senator at odds with Democrats.

But the issues Wyden has stood behind include international trade deals that have cost jobs, Stine said.

He cited a Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute analysis that found Oregon was one of the hardest hit states in the country for job losses because of various trade deals since 2001. The Institute’s report claimed 3.2 million jobs were lost nationwide since China joined the World Trade Organization that helped push up the U.S. trade deficit.

Stine said he criticizes Wyden for joining forces with U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, in seeking semi-privatization of Medicare in 2011 and 2012. If the plan had worked, it would have made it easier to cut Medicare benefits from senior citizens, Stine said.

Wyden’s support of the LNG gas pipeline is an abuse of the eminent domain process because it advances the interests of a private company rather than creating a project that serves the general public’s interests, Stine said.

The Jordan Cove LNG project would start in Coos Bay, a 235-mile-long pipeline would traverse public and private lands in Jackson County and throughout Southern Oregon.

A spokesman for Wyden could not be reached for comment.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

Stine, Kevin