Republicans Jim Feldkamp and Monica Johnson are vying for the daunting assignment of opposing Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio's bid for a 10th term in the November elections.
Feldkamp is the veteran in this race in more than one sense. A former Navy pilot who flew combat missions in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, he is seeking a rematch with DeFazio from 2004. In that year's general election, the incumbent won 61 percent of the vote to Feldkamp's 38 percent.
While that sounds unimpressive, it was a better showing than most of DeFazio's previous opponents in the Fourth District, which includes all of Lane, Coos, Douglas, Linn and Curry counties, and parts of Benton and Josephine counties. Since surviving a fierce three-candidate Democratic primary in 1986, DeFazio has not faced a serious challenge from either a Republican or fellow Democrat.
Feldkamp believes this time will be different. With the experience of the 2004 race and improved name recognition, Feldkamp says he's ready to mount the formidable campaign it will take to deny an iconic incumbent his bid to begin a third decade in Congress.
That remains to be seen. But it is clear that Feldkamp is the right choice for Republicans.
Johnson is a 25-year-old swimming instructor who was 5 years old when DeFazio was first elected in the Fourth. While her youth is not necessarily a liability, her complete lack of political experience is. She should remedy that deficiency by winning election to a local office before making another run at Congress.
She's running for Congress because she believes DeFazio has "tunnel vision" and no longer pays any attention to constituents who disagree with him. She blames DeFazio and his Democratic colleagues in Congress for Oregon's economic problems, in particular restrictions on the harvesting of natural resources.
Johnson falls on the right of the GOP political spectrum, as evidenced by her environmental views. She opposes mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions and believes timber salvage should be expedited in burned national forests. She believes the ownership of public lands, with the exception of a handful of prominent national parks, should be transferred to states or sold to private interests.
On other issues, Johnson believes immigration reform should focus on enforcement and says Congress should make permanent all temporary tax cuts. She believes a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq is necessary and says President Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program is legal.
Feldkamp, a 43-year-old Roseburg native who spent four years as an expert for the FBI, says he's running because Oregonians have lost control of their public lands and economy to the federal government. He supports Oregon Congressman Greg Walden's timber salvage bill and dismisses scientific studies questioning its desirability as "science shanghaied by politics."
While Feldkamp supports the Bush administration on many issues, he parts company with it on the issue of renewing the federal program that has provided $1.6 billion to rural counties and schools in Oregon and elsewhere across the nation since 2000. Instead of the Bush plan to cut federal payments to counties by 50 percent and eliminate them after four years, he prefers legislation recently introduced by Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Max Baucus, D-Mont., that would provide full funding by closing a tax loophole.
On other issues, Feldkamp supports immigration reform that focuses on enforcement. He believes Congress must improve the nation's health care system and says he's intrigued by a new health care plan in Massachusetts. On other issues, he wants to make permanent all of the Bush tax cuts and opposes congressional proposals to set a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.
On some issues, Feldkamp is sounding a more moderate note than he did two years ago. That may be a calculated effort to bolster support among independents and Republican moderates in a probable fall rematch with DeFazio. But it helps make Feldkamp an even more appealing candidate in a primary in which he already was the obvious choice.
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|Title Annotation:||Editorials; Two seeking GOP nod to oppose DeFazio|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Apr 20, 2006|
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