Longtime Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Walden now has a Democratic opponent, retired lawyer Jim Crary, 63, a resident of the Greensprings southeast of Ashland and an ardent supporter of campaign finance reform, climate change action and Bernie Sanders for president.
Crary acknowledges that the opponent of the incumbent in the heavily red Second District, which mostly covers eastern Oregon, is something of a “sacrificial lamb,” but, at minimum, “I want to talk about a lot of issues that aren’t getting talked about. A lot of people aren’t happy with politicians, as you see in the presidential race. There’s a small sliver of hope and if I have to be that lamb, I will get out a message that resonates.”
His big issues include income inequality, Social Security, affordable higher education, elimination of the electoral college, gun reform (universal background checks, no automatic weapons) and bringing back the draft so it is spread evenly around all socio-economic classes 18 to 25.
Congressional campaigns are expensive, but Crary says his Republican opponent has a $1.5 million war chest and “there’s no way I can come even close to that. I’m going to travel and talk to a lot of groups and I hope social media can be a leveler.”
Crary was a prosecutor for the city of Anchorage, Alaska, then a contract negotiator for British Petroleum. He has no experience in political office but got elected to the volunteer fire department board on the Greensprings and did work for passage of ballot measures in Alaska for higher taxes on alcohol.
Crary spoke to the Jackson County Democratic committee Thursday and said they were very happy to see an opponent for the eight-term Congressman Walden.
“I don’t know Walden, but after he totally submarined the Klamath water agreement, which was reached through the work of all parties, I figure he’s not representing the people but some interests from outside the district," Crary said. "When people work together, that should be supported but he introduced totally different legislation and threw them a curve ball.”
Crary spent two years in the Army in the early 1970s, graduated in business administration in 1976 from Pacific Lutheran in Tacoma and got his law degree in 1980 at University of San Diego.
His platform at www.crary16.com offers these changes:
- House members have 12-year term limits. They can’t work as lobbyists for 12 years after serving in Congress. Direct popular election of the president.
- Campaign contributions by individuals, not corporations, living in district, with cap of $2,600.
- Legalize and tax marijuana.
- Choice, access to birth control, fund Planned Parenthood.
- Stay out of foreign conflicts.
- Higher minimum wage.
- Support Obamacare.
—John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com.