OR-2: Will Greg Walden draw a primary challenger?

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

OR-2: Will Greg Walden draw a primary challenger?

Klamath County Commissioner Dennis Linthicum

Well, this could get interesting. It seems that the Club for Growth's efforts to find a right-wing primary challenger for Congressman Greg Walden may have borne fruit.

Klamath County Commissioner Dennis Linthicum says he's "exploring" a race: "I'm convinced that those in the Second District of Oregon are looking for leadership and strong, Constitutionally conservative values."

For months now, the Club for Growth has featured Walden on PrimaryMyCongressman.com, one of just ten GOP members to get that level of scrutiny. Why Walden?

He supported the Wall Street bailout, was one of just 33 Republicans who supported subsidies for Viagra, and was one of 43 Republicans who opposed cutting the spending from Obama’s stimulus.

Walden is, of course, the chairman of the NRCC, the fifth-ranking member of the House GOP leadership team, and a close confidant of Speaker John Boehner.

In an editorial, the Herald & News says "the more, the merrier" and then proposes a provocative question:

"For Walden, who gets two questions because he’s the incumbent: What have you done in Congress that justifies keeping you there and, gee, where is the farm bill?"

Hmm, the Farm Bill. If Linthicum can marry right-wing dissatisfaction with Boehner to small-town Oregon's irritation at the lack of a Farm Bill, he might just have something going here.

That is, as long as the money is there.

And the Club for Growth hasn't been afraid to pour big bucks into races - telling the O's Jeff Mapes that they've spent over $1 million on some House races through their SuperPAC.

And while it's unlikely that even a successful primary challenge would make the seat competitive for Democrats, Daily Kos's David Nir notes that it might help Democrats nationwide:

Klamath County Commissioner Dennis Linthicum says he's considering a challenge to Rep. Greg Walden in the GOP primary, a longshot bid that might nevertheless help Democrats. That's not because Dems would have a chance at this dark-red seat if Walden were to lose, but rather if Walden is pinned down back home fighting for re-election, that means he'll have less time to spend helping his own party nationally in his role as NRCC chair. Something similar happened in 2006, when then-NRCC chief Tom Reynolds faced a serious general election challenge from Jack Davis that threw him off his game, helping Democrats win back the majority that year.

That said, crazier things have happened when right-wingers win primaries. (Just ask Senators Joe Donnelly and Claire McCaskill.) Maybe it's time for Oregon Democrats to find a serious candidate willing to start building a campaign just in case Linthicum pulls it off.

In less than two weeks, Democrats are gathering in the heart of the 2nd District for the biannual Oregon Summit. Hopefully, finding a challenger for OR-2 will be a topic of conversation.

Pass the popcorn!

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