Klamath County Commissioner Dennis Linthicum is thinking of running for Oregon’s second congressional seat.
The commissioner elected in 2010 would challenge Greg Walden, R-Hood River, who has held the position since 1999. The election is in November 2014.
Linthicum announced during the commissioners’ regular Tuesday meeting he has formed an exploratory committee to look into his possible run for Congress.
“I’m not campaigning,” Linthicum said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “I’m simply exploring challenging Greg Walden. I think there’s room for growth and room for a different set of values.”
If he ran, Linthicum would run as a Republican and have to beat Walden in the primary. Linthicum said he was not intimidated by Walden’s 14 years in office.
“I strike back to the founding constitutional document,” he said. “Congress members are elected every two years. Our founders wanted to turn the House. They didn’t want that seniority.”
Walden’s office released a statement in response to Linthicum’s announcement Tuesday. Walden plans to run for re-election in 2014.
“I work hard every day to get results for the Oregonians who elected me, and I look forward to earning the trust of the voters once more next year,” Walden said in the statement. “I’ll continue my efforts to put people back to work in our rural communities, better manage our forests, promote our agriculture, and access Oregon’s abundant resources. And I’ll continue working to repeal Obamacare, reduce wasteful government spending and balance the federal budget.”
Linthicum said the exploratory committee has been acting for a little more than two weeks.
“I’m trying to get a feel for the landscape before I announce,” he said.
Funding is coming from the Friends of Dennis Linthicum, but he said he has not done any formal fundraising for his look at the congressional race.
According to the Oregon Secretary of State’s office, the Friends of Dennis Linthicum has a balance of $991.88 carried over from last year.
Linthicum said funding for an exploratory committee cannot exceed $5,000.
If Linthicum ran for Congress, he would not be able to run for commissioner again. Both elections are in 2014.
“My role here in the county would be terminated if I would seek this position,” Linthicum said.
Linthicum said the issue of increasing government debt weighs heavy on his mind, and on the backs of American citizens.
“If you think that the city of Klamath Falls has unfunded liabilities and we put those rocks in your backpack, it’s not too heavy,” Linthicum said. But add Klamath County’s unfunded liabilities, and the state’s and then the federal debt, it adds up, he argued.
“It just crushes your soul with a giant boulder,” Linthicum said. “This is madness to think we are not dealing with this in an effective manner.”
Linthicum also disagreed with Walden’s vote on the House legislation that would have blocked the National Security Agency from collecting mass amounts of phone records. Walden voted against the measure, which was closely defeated in a 205-217 vote.
“Walden was on the wrong side of that vote,” Linthicum said. “It would just prevent the NSA from gathering all the mass electronic data. … The NSA collects data quite needlessly. It’s inappropriate for the NSA to violate our fourth amendment right.”
Linthicum also said he would oppose Obamacare.
Lastly he chose Constitution Day, the 226th anniversary of signing the United States’ founding document, as the day to announce his intentions for Congress, because of his belief in a people’s government.
“‘It’s wholly owing to the constitution of the people and not the constitution of the government,’” Linthicum said, quoting founding father Thomas Paine.