BEND, OR -- Democrats hoping to unseat Congressman Greg Walden in 2018 took part in a forum Monday, in Bend. Eric Burnette, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, Jim Crary, Michael Byrne and Tim White are vying for the Democratic nomination for the Second Congressional District. A sixth candidate, Ross Wordhouse, withdrew from the race during his opening statement Monday evening.
Candidates covered a wide range of topics, including federal land use and taxes. When asked whether Rep. Walden should feel safe because District Two is traditionally Republican, Jamie McLeod-Skinner said, "It's about holding Greg Walden accountable for what he hasn't done. He's going to lose on the healthcare issue because individuals across the district, including Republicans who have never voted for a Democrat, have told me to my face that they will not vote for him again."
Michael Byrne, a former Mt. Hood Mountain Rescue Volunteer, answered questions about healthcare. He told the crowd, "When I'm elected, the first thing I'm going to do in Congress is co-sponsor House Resolution 667, and get the ball rolling. The models are already out there. Whether you look at Japan or you look at Germany, which is a mix of private and public health systems." Eric Burnette, of Hood River, agreed the system needs to be fixed, "The litmus test for me is not 'Medicare for all,' it's 'Healthcare for all.' Any discussion we have has to start with that. We can't leave anybody out."
Jim Crary, a veteran and avid hunter from the Ashland area, was asked about the Second Amendment. "I don't call it gun control, I call it gun safety. I am not adverse to somebody owning a firearm for self defense, or for hunting." Tim White of Bend also addressed the issue, "It's not so much about rights. It's about a 14 billion dollar a year industry, okay? The NRA consists of about 5 million members. Why does 5 million people get to set policy for the other 295 million people?"
Monday's event was hosted by Indivisible Bend, the College Democrats of Oregon, and Vocal Seniority. It was moderated by Bend City Councilor Dr. Nathan Boddie, who is also campaigning for higher office as a Democrat in 2018. He plans to run for the Oregon House District 54 seat currently occupied by Dr. Knute Buehler (R-Bend). Buehler is giving up his seat to run for Governor.