Dennis Linthicum announces he's running against Rep. Greg Walden in GOP primary

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., greets well-wishers at the Dorchester Conference in Seaside earlier this year. (Jeff Mapes/The Oregonian)

By Jeff Mapes |
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on October 23, 2013 at 12:36 PM, updated October 23, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Klamath County Chairman Dennis Linthicum announced Wednesday that he's jumping into the Republican primary against Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, who is a member of the House GOP leadership.

Klamath County Chairman Dennis Linthicum

Linthicum said in a telephone interview that he was pleased with the support he received after he launched an exploratory campaign last month, and he expressed his candidacy in strong anti-Washington tones. Voters "don't like the crony capitalism and elitism that is coming out of Washington," said Linthicum, charging that while Walden presents himself as a local guy from Hood River, "he's a politician and he's made a career out of it."
UPDATE: Walden responded by issuing this statement:
“I work hard every day to get results for Oregonians, and I look forward to earning their trust again next year. I remain focused on reducing the size and cost of government and growing Oregon’s economy to create jobs in the woods, on our farms, and in the high tech sector.”
Walden, who was first elected in 1998, has been well-entrenched in his vast district and has had little serious competition since -- particularly in the Republican primary. He is in the House leadership by virtue of his chairmanship of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which oversees the House GOP campaign effort. But earlier this year, the Club for Growth -- a conservative group that often spends heavily in Republican races -- put Walden on its "Primary My Congressman" list of GOP members the group thinks should be ousted.
The immediate cause of the group's unhappiness was Walden's opposition to a proposal by President Barack Obama -- and supported by several Republican leaders -- to adopt smaller cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients. The group cited that, as well as several of his votes, as examples of a "long record of supporting increases in government spending and opposing fiscally conservative proposals."
Walden has rejected the criticism, saying in an interview earlier this month: "I'm proud of my conservative voting record." He noted that a large number of local leaders in the district have expressed their support for him and said they sought to discourage Linthicum from running.
Linthicum said he thinks he can win support from grassroots groups, particularly those involved in the Tea Party movement. "I think the Tea Party individuals...are clearly in my camp," he said.
Linthicum recently took credit for Walden's vote against the budget deal that ended the shutdown, saying that he too would would have opposed the deal because it did not provide major spending reductions.
Walden has said he opposed the deal because it "kicks the can down the road" without providing a solution. It marked one of the rare times that Walden had parted ways with House Speaker John Boehner on a major fiscal issue.
--Jeff Mapes