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Walden's vote no on the shutdown-ending deal likely didn't sway voters

 Posted: 6:35 PM October 22, 2013

Now that the smoke is clearing on the political battlefield that was the fight over the partial shutdown of the federal government, has U.S. Rep. Greg Walden been wounded politically by his no vote?

"It all depends on who you talk to," said the Republican from Hood River, who is chairman of the National Republican Central Committee and fifth-ranking member of the House GOP leadership team.

"I probably had 3,500 emails and calls one way and about the same the other way," he said of the argument over whether the shutdown should continue. "Everyone had strongly held views. It was intense."

He was one of 18 senators and 144 House members, all Republicans, who voted against ending the shutdown and raising the debt ceiling to prevent what many felt could had been a catastrophic default.

Walden, who has represented Oregon's 2nd Congressional District for 14 years, said he made his decision based on his own judgment, not because of any outside political pressure or the potential for a GOP challenger popping up on his political right. His district includes all of Eastern Oregon, Jackson County and a portion of Josephine County.

His vote didn't change the Club For Growth's view of the congressman. In response to a query from the Mail Tribune on Tuesday, a spokesman for the staunchly conservative group referred to Walden as a "liberal," based on his overall voting record.

Barney Keller, the communications director for the Club for Growth, said in an email that the group evaluates candidates on their record, not just one vote.

"Greg Walden is a liberal with a long record of supporting bigger government — he voted to bail out Wall Street, to keep the spending in the Obama stimulus, and even voted against ending government subsidies for Viagra," he said.

Walden shrugged off the criticism, although he seemed slightly amused by the liberal label.

"I think that would be a surprise to most people," Walden said, adding he doesn't plan to change his approach because of the group's criticism.

Political science professor Jim Moore at Pacific University sees the no vote as having no long-range political impact.

"I don't think the vote will do much one way or the other — the primary is still a long way away," said Moore, a 1977 graduate of Medford Senior High School.

Walden is one of the most powerful House members from the Northwest in many years, Moore said. However, it's still a long shot for him to follow in the footsteps of the late Tom Foley from Washington, a Democrat who became Speaker of the House, he added.

"However, he is also in kind of an ideal position," Moore added. "He is high enough to be recognized, but still low enough not to be blamed for the tactics."

— Paul Fattig

Read more in Wednesday's paper.

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