Herewith my views on the races for Congress:
Ron Wyden is running for a fourth full term in the Senate. Among the most liberal of the senators, he was a voice against deep involvement in Iraq and more recently has been speaking out against the government's Google-like desire to know absolutely everything about everyone. He is the 14th most senior senator and the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee; if the Democrats take control of the Senate he will become the chair. His challenger, Medford city councilor Kevin Stine, is a serious candidate with a future in politics who has not advanced a good reason for Oregonians to change senators. Democrats should renominate him.
Four Republicans want the chance to challenge Senator Wyden in November. Only one has held meaningful elective office (another is a precinct committeeman). Faye Stewart, who is the chair of the Lane County Commission, is the most practical and experienced of the four Republican contenders. Besides his terms in elective and appointive office, he has firsthand experience in the lumber industry from his family's connection with the former Bohemia Corporation and civic involvement. (Stub Stewart State Park, near Vernonia, is named after his great-uncle.) Two candidates make a virtue of their lack of political experience, and the third wants to be our "constitutionally conservative" Senator, a phrase which reminds me, uncomfortably, of the ill-informed claimants to the office of "constitutional sheriff." Mr. Stewart describes his accomplishments in office; the other candidates don't seem to understand the role of a Senator. I recommend a vote for Mr. Stewart.
Over at the House, in the 1st District incumbent Suzanne Bonamici is challenged by Shabba Woodley, a political newcomer who did not file a statement in the Voter's Pamphlet, but whose website does describe issues that Congress can help. I would like to see Mr. Woodley strive for the state House, but he is not ready to run for Congress. Rep. Bonamici should be renominated. Three Republicans filed for the 1st District nomination, Jonathan Burgess, Brian Heinrich, and Delinda Morgan. It's hard for me to recommend one of them, because not one of them submitted a Voter's Pamphlet statement. Mr. Heinrich and Ms. Morgan do have campaign websites -- I couldn't find one for Mr. Burgess. Mr. Heinrich seems an engaging enough fellow, but Ms. Morgan's website does stake out positions on how she would vote if elected. I can't say that I find her positions logical -- she wants to cut taxes and also stop borrowing to finance federal spending -- but she is trying, however awkwardly, to grapple with the issues that Congress faces. She is the best of the Republicans' choices to lose to Rep. Bonamici in November.
In the 3rd District, Earl Blumenauer is unopposed in either party, a sensible decision by all of the would-be candidates for his seat. The hyperenergetic congressman has for years seemingly been able to be in the Capitol and in Portland at the same time, a feat that few challengers could match. I suspect that he's cloned himself.
In the 5th District, incumbent Democrat Kurt Schrader faces a strong challenge from Dave McTeague, who served 5 terms in the Oregon house and was later the executive director of a small state agency for 18 years. He is capable and competent, but so is Rep. Schrader. The district would be well-served with either man in office. Dr. Schrader is among the more liberal Congressmen on both domestic policy (repealing the Citizens United decision) and foreign policy (opposing increasing our ground troops in the Middle East), and is well in line with Oregonians. The 5th District is finely balanced between Democrats and Republicans, and in my view Dr. Schrader is more likely than Mr. McTeague to carry the centrists in the district. Mr. McTeague has aligned his campaign platform with that of Bernie Sanders, which gives an easy way for voters to choose: Democrats who support Senator Sanders and who would not vote for Secretary Clinton in the general election should vote for Mr. McTeague. Democrats who would vote for Secretary Clinton in the general election should support Dr. Schrader for another term.
Four Republicans have filed in the 5th District. Three submitted candidate statements. They reflect, sadly, the weakness of the Republican candidate bench in Oregon. None has held elective office. Colm Willis, an attorney, states that he is a "limited government, Constitutional conservative who will defend our freedoms and stand up for our rights." He also wants to "cut taxes and stop deficit spending," two great tastes that do not go well together. Another candidate, Seth Allan, says that the federal government "owns 53% of Oregon's land which is more than they can properly manage." If elected he will work to transfer those lands to state and local governments or to sell the lands to private parties. No one who has been to Josephine County or Curry County can possibly believe that those local governments have the wherewithal to manage even more land than they own now. I find his platform inspiring and completely impractical. That leaves Ben West, a mortgage banker who is about to receive a degree in nursing. Although parts of his platform are politically infirm, his candidate statement does give the impression that he understands that the role of government includes providing services to people who cannot help themselves, and for that reason I invite Republicans in the 5th District to vote for Mr. West.