By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
November 11, 2006
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., did as well as his Democratic colleagues from across the state in Tuesday’s election — no small feat with an anti-Republican movement sweeping the nation.
Walden was one of five Oregon incumbents winning another two years in the House. He captured 71 percent of the 2nd Congressional District vote, more than a 2-1 ratio.
In Hood River County, Walden beat out Carol Voisin, a professor at Southern Oregon University, by a 60.7 to 37.5 percent margin.
“That’s huge — especially in the environment where I was the only Republican in the delegation. I’m humbled by the support,” he said.
The Democrats picked up well above the 15 seats they needed to become the majority party in the House. So, Walden will, in January, find himself a member of the minority for the first time since taking office in 1999.
But he isn’t overly worried about the change in leadership because he has a history of working well with Democratic peers.
“Voters analyzed their own members of Congress and, in my case, they saw how I reach across the aisle to solve problems and get things done,” said Walden. “I think people sent a message that they don’t want partisan bickering -- they want their elected officials to take care of business.”
Walden will lose his role as chair of the House Resource Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health. He is unsure how that will play out in his quest to lessen the danger of wildland fires by removing diseased and overstocked stands of trees from national forests. Or revamp the Endangered Species Act to make recovery rates more effective and base new listings on peer-review science.
“It’s going to be a different world. It will be interesting to see what the Democrat’s agenda for America is,” said Walden.
He remains optimistic that the multi-tiered master plan for Mount Hood that he crafted with U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., will become law in the near future.
“I had a very productive conversation with Earl before the election and we both remain wholly committed to moving the House-approved plan forward. We want to see if we can get it done by the end of the year,” said Walden. Walden and Blumenauer, who netted 74 percent of the 3rd District vote, will continue discussions with U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore., to reconcile their legislation on Mount Hood.