Klamath commissioner to challenge Walden

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, who represents Oregon's 2nd Congressional District, will have a Republican challenger in the May primary.

Dennis Linthicum, chairman of the Klamath County Board of Commissioners, announced Wednesday morning he will throw his hat into the GOP ring.

"Like many in the 2nd District, I think the federal government is unwieldy and harmful in its current state," Linthicum said in a prepared statement. "As we saw with the recent shutdown debate, ordinary individuals and businesses are punished for Washington's inability to manage our money."

Walden of Hood River is regarded by most political watchers as a conservative, while Linthicum, a businessman and software developer in the Klamath Falls area, has established himself on the incumbent's political right.

Linthicum, who has lived in Southern Oregon for about 20 years, graduated in 1978 with a bachelor's degree in economics from UCLA. In 2009, he earned a master's degree from Biola University. He and Diane, his wife of 33 years, have two children, both grown.

After overseeing information systems for a human resources management firm and an insurance company, he moved with his family to Southern Oregon, where he has worked as an independent computer consultant and operated a small cattle ranch east of Klamath Falls.

Walden, elected to the seat in 1998, has faced no opposition within his party in past primaries and only token challengers from the Democratic Party in the general election. He is chairman of the National Republican Central Committee and fifth-ranking member of the House GOP leadership team.

The district includes all of Eastern Oregon, Jackson County and a portion of Josephine County.

"I work hard every day to get results for Oregonians, and I look forward to earning their trust again next year," Walden said in a statement after Linthicum made his announcement.

"I remain focused on reducing the size and cost of government and growing Oregon's economy to create jobs in the woods, on our farms, and in the high-tech sector," he added.

A Democratic has yet to step forward to run in the 2nd District. Noting it was still early in the contest, a state party spokesman said a competitive candidate would emerge.

Walden, an outspoken critic of the Affordable Care Act, was one of 18 senators and 144 House members, all Republicans, who voted against ending the partial federal government shutdown and raising the debt ceiling.

Linthicum, elected to the board of commissioners in 2010, indicated he had been urged to run.

"I've been so humbled by the outpouring of support during the exploratory phase of this run," he said. "I'm excited to continue to hear from people in the 2nd District as we work together for common-sense policies and individual liberty. Folks here care about economic growth and constitutional conservatism, but their voice is largely going unheard.

"We need to allow enterprise to create jobs, build infrastructure and grant opportunity to everyone equally, not creating carve-outs for specific industries or kickbacks for those with connections," he said.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or pfattig@mailtribune.com.

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