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Walden worthy of re-election

Challenger Carol Voisin is sharp, but highly inexperienced

The Nov. 7 mid-term election is being billed nationally as a referendum on Bush administration policy on the Iraq war, homeland security and the economy. Bush will remain in office until 2008, but Democrats are urging voters to express their growing dissatisfaction with the president by replacing Republican members of Congress.

Here in Oregon's sprawling 2nd Congressional District, Democrat Carol Voisin will undoubtedly reap some benefit from that sentiment in her bid to unseat incumbent Republican Rep. Greg Walden. As in previous elections, it will undoubtedly not be enough.

We are no fans of the Bush administration; this newspaper endorsed John Kerry for president in 2004, largely on the basis of Bush's performance during his first term. We opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and we remain thoroughly unimpressed with just about every aspect of this presidency.

Nevertheless, we recommend that voters return Walden to Congress. We do so not because he supports the administration but because he focuses his energy on serving his district, and because he has effectively worked across the aisle on legislation important to his constituents.

Walden certainly votes with his party most of the time. But he points out correctly that the same can be said of his Democratic colleagues in the Oregon delegation. Serving in the House is a balancing act for most representatives &

8212; vote with your caucus often enough to maintain cordial relationships that can translate into support for legislation you want that may not please all of your fellow party members.

Walden, unlike some more high-profile House members, does not serve on the Armed Services or Intelligence committees; he has not sought the national spotlight on the Iraq war, the national economy or treatment of detainees suspected of terrorism. He has worked diligently on natural resources issues, including securing House passage of a bipartisan bill to expand the Mount Hood Wilderness Area.

He is quick to point out areas where he disagrees with the Bush administration, including defending Oregon's Death With Dignity law from administration attacks. Walden also signed a letter urging President Bush not to veto the stem-cell research bill, and when that effort was unsuccessful, voted to overturn the president's veto.

We don't agree with him on every issue, but he effectively represents a district that is overwhelmingly Republican, rural and conservative.

Democrat Carol Voisin is an intelligent, appealing candidate who spent the summer traveling the 2nd District, which encompasses all of Eastern Oregon, from the Columbia Gorge to the California border, as well as Jackson County. She is well-spoken and pointed in her criticism of Walden's voting record.

But she would face a steep learning curve if elected. Voisin has lived in Oregon only since 2002 and has never served in elective office.

We recommend that Voisin get some governmental experience under her belt and spend a few more years getting to know the second largest congressional district in the country before she tries to represent it in Washington, D.C.