With a video statement released Monday by his office, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden changed the Oregon political landscape.
“The time has come to pursue new challenges and opportunities,” Walden said Monday, announcing his retirement in 2020 via video from his office.
The Hood River Republican has represented the Second Congressional District, for the past 22 years.
“At the end of this term, I will have devoted 30 years to the important calling of public service; of helping bring people together to solve problems and leave our communities, our beautiful state and our great nation better off for the next generation,” Walden said in his statement.
Oregon GOP Chairman Bill Currier said, “We recognize and thank Greg for his exemplary record of public service to his district, our state, and our nation. He and his family have sacrificed much over the years and we wish them all the best after decades of dedication to the people of Oregon.
“Like Congressman Walden, we are very confident of having a strong nominee for Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District and winning the seat again.”
Walden won re-election to a ninth term in 2018, by a wide margin but his closest ever: 56.3 percent of the vote to 39.4 percent for Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner. As Congressman he has an annual salary of $174,000, and his net worth (2012) is listed in Ballotpedia.org at $2.7 million.
Walden is the former chairman, and now top Republican, of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Walden and his wife, Mylene, owned and operated radio stations in Hood River and The Dalles for more than two decades. They are the parents of two sons, Anthony, 29, and Garrison, who died of a congenital heart defect in 1994. He served six years in the Oregon House (1989-95), including as House Majority Leader during the 1991 and 1993 sessions, before serving two years in the Oregon Senate (1995-97).
“Based on recent polling, strong fundraising, and the backing of my wife and family, I am confident I could earn the support of 2nd District voters for another term. I’m also optimistic that a path exists for Republicans to recapture a majority in the House, and that I could return for two more years as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“But I also know that for me, the time has come to pursue new challenges and opportunities.
“So, I will not seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, nor election to any other office, but instead I will close the public service chapter of my life, thankful for the friends I’ve made and the successful work we’ve done together.
“It’s been an honor and privilege to represent the people of Oregon’s 2nd District in the U.S. House. Know that I will continue to work hard on their behalf as long as I’m in office.
“Together we’ve worked to find solutions to the opioid crisis, improve forest health, and increase access to high speed broadband.
“My team and I have helped thousands of Oregonians get the Social Security, Medicare, and veterans’ benefits they earned and deserved.
“Rural Oregon values run deeply in my veins. My ancestors arrived here in 1845 and I grew up on a cherry orchard in The Dalles with parents who survived the Great Depression. They taught me the true meaning of community; the importance of giving back; and the value of hard work. That’s why I’ve given it my all for the people and the way of life we so enjoy in Oregon.”