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Re-elect Walden

We don't always agree with him, but he represents his constituents well

We are not always thrilled with U.S. Rep. Greg Walden's positions. He's a bit too predictable on natural resource issues - siding with farmers and mill owners time and again - and rarely breaks from the Republican camp on issues ranging from taxes to war on Iraq.

But neither do we believe that he is the inflexible and unapproachable politician his opponents portray. While the 2nd District congressman has solid conservative credentials, he also has sought middle ground on contentious issues and has valued pragmatism over politics while in office.

For those reasons, we recommend the re-election of Greg Walden to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Walden's Democratic opponent, Peter Buckley, is bright and engaging. He is also marching to the beat of a different drummer than that heard by the majority of voters in the rural 2nd District. Buckley, who has never held public office, raises important issues in his campaign and we find ourselves agreeing with him that, in a perfect world, we could do more for universal health care, improving human services, making peace instead of war and cracking down even harder on corporate wrongdoers.

But those issues are not the priorities of most rural Oregonians. Their priorities, for better or worse, are closer to home: things like providing blue-collar jobs, ending environmental stalemate and controlling a government that grows while their prosperity shrinks.

Walden (whom even his opponent concedes is "a nice guy") owns five radio stations in northeast Oregon. As a small-business owner, he knows all too well the challenges facing entrepreneurs and is an advocate for reducing the bureaucratic monster that drives so many business people to the ends of their ropes.

But he also has been involved in investigating illegal and unethical corporate activities and in developing legislation to deal with it.

His business orientation shows through on environmental issues, where he is routinely conservative. However, he did help develop the compromise leading to establishment of the Steens Mountain Wilderness Area and he has sought compromise - albeit with a decidedly conservative bent - in the Klamath Basin water fight. He is one of the authors of a forest health/thinning measure that attempts to walk as close as possible to the middle line in the road.

For those who label him a rabid conservative, he also points out that he bucked the Bush administration on the death with dignity issue, that he has consistently voted to fund K-12 and higher education and that he is an advocate for rural health care.

Those kinds of positions and our own dealings with Walden convince us that he is fairly representing the district and that he is open to opposing viewpoints. We encourage 2nd District voters to return him to office.