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2nd District: Carol Voisin

Dan Davis is a solid candidate, but his ideas are less developed

Second Congressional District Democrats have gathered a crowd of candidates this spring in their efforts to unseat longtime Republican representative Greg Walden of Hood River.

Four Walden critics are roaming the 19-county district in advance of the May 16 primary election, each listing a host of missteps by the representative in an attempt to overturn his reign in Congress.

The district is not only vast but also strongly Republican. Any of the four will have an uphill battle against Walden in the fall. But two candidates are running more credible campaigns than the others, and one of those is clearly best-suited to represent Oregonians in Congress.

Carol Voisin is a liberal Ashlander who has lived in Oregon fewer than a half dozen years and has visited the entire Second District only once: as part of this campaign.

Those are points an opponent might easily attack. However, Voisin, a lecturer at Southern Oregon University, is also smart, well-spoken and remarkably informed on a broad range of issues facing the district. A theologian by training, she listens well, responds thoughtfully and hopefully to hard questions and lists a commitment to ethics as a priority. Voisin's politics will be too liberal for some voters. She opposes the war in Iraq and talks a lot about alternative energy. It is clear she would not, as Walden did several years ago, automatically side with farmers on Klamath water questions.

No thoughtful politician would, frankly.

What we like best about Voisin is that although she clearly would take representation in a different direction than Walden has, she approaches problems optimistically, as though a solution surely exists if only disparate groups of people will talk and listen.

That tone might be what separates her more than anything from Applegate resident Dan Davis, the other credible candidate here.

Davis has respectable Democratic views and might be more palatable to some voters than Voisin because he is a Vietnam War veteran, comes from a mill family and has longer roots in Oregon.

He's a fine candidate, but one who's focused on his frustration with Washington. In an endorsement interview, his ideas on most topics were less clear and less fleshed out than Voisin's.

The other two Democratic candidates are Chuck Butcher, a Baker City contractor, and Scott Silver, a Bend advocate for eliminating federal forest trails fees. Although all four Democrats are first-time candidates for elective office, Voisin and Davis are working harder to show they have the ability to represent the entire district.

Voisin has something more as well: a smart, thoughtful, positive approach to a new kind of leadership in the Second District.