GREG WALDEN, center, wields the golden scissors at the dedication of the Union Street marine terminal during its dedication in 2012. Chronicle file photo
One of the challenges facing Republicans in the May 20 primary election is deciding exactly what Republicanism means to them.
Right now the party, particularly in Oregon, has a fragmented identity. In decades past, it served as the party of moderates with leaders such as Mark O. Hatfield, Bob Packwood, Norma Paulus and Vic Atiyeh.
These politicians tended to be more conservative where budget was concerned than their counterparts in the Democratic Party, but often a little more socially progressive.
In recent years a different brand of Republican has risen nationally and in Oregon, and done much to drive the party into the more conservative end of the spectrum. As exemplified by the Tea Party Republicans, they have made a loud noise on the political scene, espousing traditional, socially conservative values on some subjects and beliefs bordering on Libertarian on others.
They have captured the imagination of many Americans and, as a result, have altered the overall course of politics on the national scene.
In Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District, the political spectrum of Republicanism is clearly represented.
Incumbent Greg Walden comes from a tradition of moderate Republicanism. He recognizes that successful legislation involves working across party lines. It involves recognizing that constituents don’t all have a giant “R” sewn on their sleeve and all must be served.
During much of his 16 years in Congress, Walden has patterned himself after his party’s leadership, which has taken a decidedly more conservative bent in response to the Tea Party’s rise. As part of the House Republican leadership and running its campaign, Walden has often served as the mouthpiece of his party — dishing up some of the rhetorically lock-stepped sound bites that, for critics of Congress, confirm the polarity between the two parties.
However, in the day-to-day workings of his job, Walden largely continues to walk the more moderate path that he has walked since his time in the state legislature.
He works across party lines to help shepherd legislation including the Farm Bill, forestry legislation, the Internet freedom bill and others. For these efforts and others, his much more conservative primary opponent, Dennis Linthicum, roundly criticizes him.
Linthicum says the “establishment Republicans,” of which he counts Walden one, are steering the party and the nation in the wrong direction.
But Linthicum also wants to tear down or privatize some of the public institutions that help make the United States a more stable, secure place to live.
As we saw during the long, hard slog since the 2008 economic collapse, privatizing retirement, for example, promises a rollercoaster ride of instability.
Greg Walden is clearly the better choice to serve local citizens, and the entirety of Eastern Oregon.
He has a firm grasp on the issues that concern his constituency and has helped return federal dividends to the local area.
While we would like to see less of the politician and more of the statesman in the public eye, Walden is still the best choice for the job.
While Walden is nearly a shoo-in to win his party’s nomination, the Democratic primary ticket has some interesting choices for party members to consider. We think Charles “Frank” Vulliet, Sr., is the best of those choices.
A retired trial lawyer, Vulliet has some good thoughts on further restricting bill-stuffing. He has views on water and timber resources that are consistent with the Oregon experience and would economically benefit rural, resource-
Vulliet is also the only one of the Democratic candidates who has developed a policy, supporting the creation of a Palestinian state.
While Vulliet has never held public office — and isn’t likely to now — we feel he brings a more relevant slate of issues to the public discourse.