Oregon Republican Rep. Greg Walden chairs the committee charged with getting Republicans elected to the House of Representatives. And Dennis Linthicum wants to make sure that Walden himself does not get re-elected next year.
Linthicum, a Klamath County commissioner, announced a primary challenge to Walden on Wednesday. He spoke to The Daily Caller about his run on Friday, shortly before his decision was announced.
Walden, Linthicum says, “is fairly conservative” but “not conservative enough given the rural area that we live in.”
In particular, he cited Walden’s vote earlier this year against an amendment by Republican Rep. Justin Amash to stop the National Security Agency from collecting phone record data from Americans.
“Walden voted against that, and I think that’s a clear violation of guarantees that are in the Fourth Amendment,” Linthicum said.
Linthicum said his mere presence as a possible competitor had pushed Walden further to the right. Last week, Walden voted against a deal to end the partial government shutdown and raise the debt limit, putting him on the opposite side of Speaker of the House John Boehner. Linthicum told The Oregonian last week that he believes his challenge was what pushed Walden to vote the way he did.
“Right now I am leaning toward jumping into this because I see what a powerful impact even just having me on the street corner has done in the past month,” he told TheDC. “I think [Walden] is showing decidedly conservative colors, and I think that’s good for our part of America.”
Walden is the lone Republican member of Oregon delegation and has had a more liberal voting record than some of his Republican colleagues. In April, Walden criticized President Barack Obama for calling for Social Security reform, accusing him of “trying to balance his budget on the backs of seniors.” He said after: “I know it puts me at odds with some in our party, but that is what I believe,” he added. “But we don’t always agree on everything. We may disagree from time to time.
In 1999, he voted for mandatory background checks at gun shows. In 2007, he was one of just 37 Republicans to vote in favor of federal funding for stem-cell research, a bill that then President George W. Bush vetoed.
Linthicum says his vote on the shutdown and debt ceiling deal would have been the same as Walden’s, but he questioned the strategy of the shutdown.
He said he believes the “default language is false,” questioning that the United States would default on its debt if the debt ceiling were not raised, and said that the shutdown created a strategy where the focus a “do or die” battle about raising the debt ceiling.
The real issue, he said, is that “we as a nation spend too much and borrow too much.” Linthicum said that instead of “[bringing this conversation to a boil … at this critical time in the shutdown was really problematic,” and that, instead, “we should have been addressing this for the past decade.”
“That’s where I would have tried to steer the argument,” he said. “I would have loved for Greg Walden to be steering in that direction for the past decade.”