Saturday, September 16, 2006

Voisin Awakes: "Where's Walden?"

It's perhaps the single most obvious line of opposition attack to take (as in "Where's Waldo,") but I'll take it. If Carol Voisin's campaign against Greg Walden for US District 2 in Oregon has made its point as loudly as this before, forgive us for missing it--but in today's press release Voisin does some catching up:
Question: Why is Greg Walden avoiding debates and joint appearances with Carol Voisin? Is he afraid to let the voters hear from both candidates?

Fact: Voisin’s staff has made repeated attempts to schedule joint appearances – ever since their paiths crossed in July at the Crook County Fair. Walden suggested Voisin contact his staff, but despite repeated calls, only one joint appearance is scheduled. This will be at the studios of KDRV-TV Channel 12, the ABC station in Medford, where there won’t be much of a live audience, on Sunday, October 15th, 6 to 7 p.m. The show will be telecasted simultaneously on KDKF-TV in Klamath Falls and KOHD-TV in Bend. Carol welcomes this single opportunity to discuss issues on the air with Walden, but knows there should be so many more such opportunities.

Question: When Walden returns to Oregon each weekend, Where’s Walden?

Fact: Although Walden makes it sound like his trips back are to meet with ordinary folks, this hardly ever happens. It seems that most of the time he spends in Oregon, he spends with his family in Hood River or making nearly secret visits to special events where only his hosts and the news media know he will attend. This way he gets the maximum coverage with the least contact with the public. Despite all this time Walden spends at home, he rarely posts schedules of his appearances on his websites so that his constituents know where they can see him.

What would Voisin do? Carol pledges to hold a town hall meeting in each county in the 2nd Congressional District each year she’s in office. She pledges to be open and available to constituents, who would know when she’s coming and where she will be holding public meetings. She would also keep a public calendar of her scheduled appearances posted on her website and would encourage constituents to come see her and contact her with any questions or concerns.
I like the points she's making here--they can be effective charges in a campaign--and she does the right thing by making clear how she'd be different, but one thing that concerns me is that if people think he's doing a good job anyway, the fact that he hangs with his family when he's in Oregon just makes him look like an effective leader taking a break. Yes, it is a negative when a Congressman is seen as invisible in his own district, but it has to be coupled with evidence that he's doing a bad job when he's in DC (presumably ignoring his constituents, is the implication).

Let's call this a good start; we'll assume there is more to come on the vital 2nd half of the attack. One thing that primary contender Chuck Butcher was very effective at was identifying where Walden's policies were bad for the district, and how they were not necessarily what the 2nd was expecting from him. Just one example? I can't say so with evidence, but my guess is that his constituents would probably be in favor of capping payday loan rates to our military...and yet there's a pretty good chance he'll vote to deny them that break.

The evidence continues to build that tying House incumbents to the President, as either lackeys or failed gatekeepers, is an effective strategy. Voisin has to move double time showing how often Walden does Bush's bidding, how he's partially responsible for Iraq and Katrina, and how Bush's policies are killing the 2nd district. It's good to see her moving forward with an active campaign, and we look forward to hearing more in the next couple of weeks.