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Republican ‘hardcore cycling fan’ Jason Atkinson will run for U.S Congress

Posted by on November 14th, 2019 at 11:19 am

Bike photos from 2009 by J. Maus/BikePortland. Middle photo via Atkinson for Congress campaign.

A former member of the Oregon Legislature who stood up for cycling issues on several occasions has thrown his hat into the ring to replace outgoing U.S. Congressman Greg Walden.

Atkinson (L) riding with former Bike Gallery owner Jay Graves.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Jason Atkinson announced this week that he wants to represent Oregon’s 2nd congressional district, the largest of Oregon’s five districts that encompasses nearly 70,000 square miles from the Columbia River Gorge to the California border.

Atkinson, a 49 year-old who grew up in Ashland, is an interesting candidate because of his legacy of supporting cycling bills during his time in the legislature where he served as a senator from 2001 to 2013. During his tenure, Atkinson was a staunch ally of bike advocates. He joined us for a group ride during the 2009 Oregon Bike Summit and threw his weight and voice behind several bills including: an attempt to legalized fixed gears (he once testified for the bill in a “Ride a Fixed Gear, Go to Jail” t-shirt), a new funding mechanism that would have built velodromes statewide (Atkinson wanted Oregon to develop Olympic-caliber cycling stars), and he was an early adopter of the “Idaho Stop” law that finally passed last session.

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“People would say, ‘You know, you were going to be a great statewide candidate until you went all liberal and got with the bicycles.'”
— Jason Atkinson in 2012

In an exit interview with BikePortland in 2012, Atkinson said his forays into cycling issues probably cost him support from some constituents. “I got a tremendous amount of angry email from all over Oregon every time I involved myself with a bike issue. People would say, ‘You know, you were going to be a great statewide candidate until you went all liberal and got with the bicycles.'”

It was notable in Atkinson’s campaign announcement that they referred to him as a “longtime conservative” and mentioned the hiring of a former “Trump senior strategist” to be on his team who, “shares the Atkinson campaign’s vision of values and ideals.”

Politics has gotten even more partisan since Atkinson left office six years ago and it remains to be seen whether Atkinson will continue to embrace his love and appreciation of cycling.

Read more about Atkinson’s announcement and watch a video from KDRV in Medford here.

(NOTE: I’ve reached out to Atkinson via his consulting business website but have yet to hear back. If anyone out there has current contact information for him or his campaign, please connect us. Thanks.)

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

57 Comments
  • Avatar
    Bjorn Warloe November 14, 2019 at 11:35 am

    I am very happy to see that Senator Atkinson seems to have made a full recovery from the very scary injuries he sustained when he was accidentally shot. Hard to believe it has been a decade since that happened but we were all very worried about him at the time. I enjoyed working with him on the Idaho Style legislation and look forward to hearing more about his ideas for Oregon and the nation going forward. I hope that he will continue to be a strong voice for cycling.

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      BradWagon November 14, 2019 at 11:59 am

      Wow, just now reading the story of that incident. And to think the gun owner didn’t face any consequences?? Expired concealed permit, storing a gun while still loaded, not mentioning to your friend “hey fyi there is a loaded gun in that bag”?? I cannot comprehend gun ownership sometimes, probably thinks of himself as a “responsible gun owner” too, lol.

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        Dead Salmon November 14, 2019 at 9:37 pm

        Brad Wagon said:
        “Wow, just now reading the story of that incident. And to think the gun owner didn’t face any consequences?? Expired concealed permit, storing a gun while still loaded, not mentioning to your friend “hey fyi there is a loaded gun in that bag”??”

        Agree that the gun owner should have done a better gun safety job. Article about this incident said Derringers may not have safety features to prevent the gun from discharging if the hammer is smacked:
        https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/oregon-state-senator-and-good-friend-of-gun-owners-accidently-shot.381899/

        Reason for no charges was that it was a “freak accident” per the police – I’d agree with that assessment, but you could no doubt sue for civil damages and win; and in PDX you’d probably be convicted of a crime due to anti-gun courts/prosecutors. I would not press charges if it was a friend, but I’d sure want my medical bills covered by either my insurance or the gun owner’s.

        If he was riding his bike on public streets with the concealed Derringer, then should have a CC permit; but not necessary in your home, probably not needed on private property in general. Also storing a gun loaded is not against the law, but if you are not in control of it (away from your house, etc), it’s a good idea to lock it up. That said, few people can afford a safe that is really hard to get inside; thus I am opposed to laws that hold the owner responsible for crimes a thief commits with his stolen gun.

        Brad: ” I cannot comprehend gun ownership sometimes, probably thinks of himself as a “responsible gun owner” too, lol.”

        I have no idea what that gun owner thinks of himself, but you’ll get a super clear understanding of gun ownership the first time you need one and don’t have it. When seconds count, the police are only minutes away. 😉

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          BradWagon November 15, 2019 at 11:26 am

          Yeah I keep crossing my fingers for a reason to come up but somehow in my 30 years I’ve must just be unlucky to have never needed a gun. Still time though, I’m holding out hope!

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            Dead Salmon November 15, 2019 at 6:22 pm

            I hope no person ever needs a gun, but if I ever need one, I hope I am able to do what needs to be done. Due to legal consequences, it must be an absolute last resort. According to the CDC, guns are used for self defense somewhere between 500K and 3,000,000 times per year. I’m guessing most probably don’t require pulling the trigger – a good outcome. Source – scroll down to “Defensive use of Guns” on page 15 (page 1 is really page 11):
            https://www.nap.edu/read/18319/chapter/3

            The Gunfighter’s Prayer:
            Lord, make me fast and accurate.
            Let my aim be true and my hand faster
            than those who wish to harm me and mine.
            Let not my last thought be “If only I had my gun”.
            and Lord, if today is truly the day you are to call me home,
            Let me die in a pile of brass.
            😉

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 14, 2019 at 12:01 pm

      ICYMI here’s the gunshot accident Bjorn is referring to… https://bikeportland.org/2008/09/15/photo-oregon-legislator-back-on-the-bike-after-shooting-incident-8694 And it happened while he was cleaning a friend’s bike!

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    Brandon Warlock November 14, 2019 at 11:47 am

    Now I’m confused… I though Jay Graves sold the Bike Gallery…? (photo caption)

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    BradWagon November 14, 2019 at 11:49 am

    Jim Dornan’s “campaign… values and ideals” involve big money donors and super PACs so… cool, he likes cycling, but no thanks.

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      brett November 14, 2019 at 2:31 pm

      I think you are perhaps unfamiliar with OR-2 which Trump won by 20 points in 2016. This guy has potential to be a massive improvement over Walden

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        BradWagon November 15, 2019 at 11:35 am

        One would think, however time and time again Republicans bend the knee to Trump in a cult like manner placing their striving for money over the good of the electorate. Someone running to replace one of said Republicans who hires a former adviser for Trump? Not a chance he breaks the boot-licking ranks.

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      middle of the road guy November 15, 2019 at 9:00 am

      Because Dems don’t do those things?

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        BradWagon November 15, 2019 at 11:27 am

        …trying to… re-read… hmm… Nope, just like i thought, never mentioned political party in my original post!

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          middle of the road guy November 15, 2019 at 12:14 pm

          Article mentioned Atkinson is a Republican. Liberals consistently call Republicans the party of Big Donors and SuperPacs.

          If you are happy to admit Democrats are the party of Big Donors and SuperPacs, I’ll happily retract my statement.

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            Resopmok November 15, 2019 at 6:31 pm

            I think the obvious answer is that they are both parties of big donors and superpacs. Did we have some pretense that politics and lawmaking is done for the public good?

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    Chris I November 14, 2019 at 11:58 am

    What does he think about the Trump Administration zeroing out all funding for bike/ped rojects from the latest budget?

    https://usa.streetsblog.org/2019/11/13/trump-guts-obama-era-transit-funding/

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      middle of the road guy November 15, 2019 at 9:02 am

      You should email him and ask!

      Sometimes individuals have values that are not completely in lock-step with the platform of the national political party. Like anti-abortion Dems.

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    Jim Lee November 14, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    Campaigning on a fixie…wow!

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    dan November 14, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    Isn’t it sad that an activity like cycling, which is both healthy and low cost, has become so politically charged? What kind of world do we live in when a Republican is risking their electability by riding bicycles?

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      Jason H November 14, 2019 at 12:50 pm

      Yes it is sad when you are branded politically just because of your choice of activity no matter what it is. What you do for recreation or transportation, what you like to eat, what clothing styles you wear, etc. etc. Every single facet of life seems these days to forcibly align you to one “sides” orthodoxy or another. It’s beyond depressing.

      I remember in the 90’s in Los Angeles I rode on a team with both an LGBTQ rights activist and also an assistant to a Republican state senator among the members. yet everyone got along on the bike, because the bike was something anyone could enjoy and it brought people together, not pulled them apart. Heck, LA even had a moderate Republican pro-cycling mayor at the time in Richard Riordan. Seems almost archaic to even string those words together now, and that seems a loss to everyone.

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        Dave November 14, 2019 at 4:42 pm

        Richard Riordan–a member of my old cycling club La Grange, and who after the earthquake in 1994 went out on his mountain bike to survey damage!

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      Chris I November 14, 2019 at 1:00 pm

      The modern Republican party is completely out of touch with the majority of the electorate. I would be surprised if they win the popular vote in a presidential race again. They have held on to power with gerrymandering, voter suppression, and various other tools that enable them to win elections without widespread support. Something is going to change.

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        Cyclekrieg November 14, 2019 at 1:59 pm

        Do not disagree with you on the gerrymandering, voter suppression, etc. However, let say that its not 100% just that (at least nationally) for the number of red districts across the nation. Many liberal (I’ll try to keep this away from parties and more into schools of thought) policies popular with the base have disproportionate impacts on those in rural areas. I’m not referring to social beliefs, so much, though there is some of that. I mean “how much does it cost to live” or “does this make my life harder” type of policies.

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        Dead Salmon November 14, 2019 at 11:11 pm

        Chris I said: “Something is going to change.”

        I hope you are correct and that something changes, because I am getting sick of this crap from the left – 36 second video of Nancy Pelosi describing D tactics to destroy opponents using lies and smears:

        https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4674689/user-clip-wrap-smear

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          X November 18, 2019 at 10:06 am

          got any Mitch McConnell footage over there? Pelosi is kinda old school sometimes but sorry, Republicans, you do not get to be precious like that.

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    Liz November 14, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    *giggles at the idea of road biking being viewed as “liberal”*

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      David Hampsten November 21, 2019 at 10:01 pm

      Or mountain biking as conservative, heaven forbid! Yet George W regularly rode his mountain bike on his Texas ranch while president, much to the consternation of his Secret Service bodyguards.

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    J_R November 14, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    No doubt he’d be better than Walden, but I no longer trust that any Republican will oppose Trump on anything. I used to vote for some Republicans, but no longer.

    I fear that if Atkinson is elected he’ll end up being another clone in spite of the positive stance he took in the past on things like bicycling. I predict he’ll end up opposing climate change initiatives, increased gas tax, vehicle efficiency standards, and funding for bike, pedestrian and transit projects. I hope to be proven wrong.

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      Bjorn November 14, 2019 at 1:37 pm

      Worth noting that the seat is very likely to be won by whoever wins the GOP primary (Walden won 56%-39% last election and that was the closest result of any of his runs dating back to 1998). The other declared candidate in this race that I am aware of is Cliff Bentz, who among other things was the sole vote against passing Idaho Style out of Senate committee this year. I am not ready to endorse Atkinson solely based on what he thought about bikes 10 years ago, but I think that if we pay attention we will find that of the republican primary candidates he is going to be the best choice. I am also interested in learning a little more about his involvement with trying to move forward on the Kalamath Basin Restoration Agreement, which might tell quite a bit about how he might vote in the future on environmental questions. I know he made a movie about it and the difficulty of getting all the stakeholders to come to an agreement about how to move forward, I haven’t seen it but might have to try and find it.

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      Dead Salmon November 14, 2019 at 10:45 pm

      J_R said:
      “I predict he’ll end up opposing climate change initiatives, increased gas tax, vehicle efficiency standards, and funding for bike, pedestrian and transit projects. I hope to be proven wrong.”

      You are aware that the US has reduced CO2 output more than most nations, right? Also, you may send as much money to the gas-tax fund or any other environmental fund that you want. You are free to use a zero-carbon emission vehicle (not counting the parts and lubricants made from petroleum, metal ores mined using FF powered monster machines, smelted into useable metals using FFs, lights charged with FF generated electricity, CO2 emitted by your lungs, petroleum clothing, food fertilized, grown, harvested, transported, processed and cooked using FFs, etc.

      Did you know that if, starting tomorrow, every D who claims AGW is a big crisis were to bike/ride public transportation, walk, etc that the US CO2 output would be cut by a significant chunk in 1 day? YOU HAVE THE POWER!
      😉

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      Jason Bietz November 18, 2019 at 2:09 pm

      Not the Jason Atkinson I knew in college. We raced bikes together and he’s an steadfast advocate for the environment. He’s an avid outdoorsman (fish) and loves nature.

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    Ron Swaren November 14, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    Good news. I hope he wins. Donald Trump used to cycle, too, but it’s been over 70 years.

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      Dead Salmon November 14, 2019 at 9:53 pm

      Ron said:
      “Good news. I hope he wins. Donald Trump used to cycle, too, but it’s been over 70 years.”

      I doubt the last time he rode a bike was over 70 years ago, but he did sponsor a bike race in the USA to compete with the Tour de France.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_DuPont

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        Chris I November 15, 2019 at 9:05 am

        I mean, he is the model of physical fitness. Why can’t you believe it’s been 70 years? The man has be chauffeured around his entire life. He believes that that heart only has so many beats, and you will die sooner if you increase your heart rate:
        https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/08/politics/donald-trump-exercise-health-physical/index.html

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          Dead Salmon November 15, 2019 at 6:33 pm

          Nah, unlikely it’s been 70 years since he’s only 73 years old! 😉 I could not ride at only 3 years old. I think I saw him on a bike when he was running the bike race – whether he actually went for a ride I don’t know. If I were a billionaire, I’d want to be chauffeured around to avoid being kidnapped, plus a professional driver would probably be safer than driving myself – particularly since as an international RE developer, family man, owner of sports teams, reality show star, etc he was probably rarely off the phone. 😉

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    pdx2wheeler November 14, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    What I see is a political candidate riding to the middle to get elected. “Look at me I ride a bike” If elected he’ll be caucusing with the far-right swamp monsters on the first day in office.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 14, 2019 at 2:45 pm

      he’s not saying anything about cycling so far in this race. Everything I mentioned in the post was from 6-10 years ago. And FWIW he’s not a typical cycling photo-op elected. He is/was a real cycling fan. As in: he raced criteriums, watched Euro cycling on TV, got frustrated when people passed him unsafely on training rides, and that sort of thing.

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        The Dude November 14, 2019 at 3:46 pm

        It sounds like you know the guy. Do you know how he can possibly be ok with identifying himself with the Republican Party?

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          Dead Salmon November 14, 2019 at 10:26 pm

          The Dude said: “It sounds like you know the guy. Do you know how he can possibly be ok with identifying himself with the Republican Party?”

          Yeah those Repbulicans are awful – did you know they freed the Democrat’s slaves back in the 1800s? THAT’S radical, dude! That’s just the tip of the ice berg. Did you know many of those radical, awful Republicans:

          a) Think a man is not a woman, and are not confused about which bathroom to use?
          b) Think it is unfair when a man claims to be a woman and dominates women’s sports?
          c) Think women and girls should not be forced to share shower facilities with males who claim to be female? RADICAL DUDE!
          d) Think job candidates should get the job based on their skills and qualifications, not because of their skin color or what is between their legs, etc? That’s RADICAL!
          e) Think we should scrutinize those who cross our borders to eliminate terrorists, criminals and drugs, and also think we should limit the number of people coming across our borders due to the high costs they impose on tax payers? Why do almost all other nations agree with this?
          f) Think a law abiding citizen should be able to own firearms to defend themselves and their families because police can’t be everywhere all the time? Also, it’s in the Constitution. 😉
          g) Think they have a right to wear political messages on their hat/shirt/etc without being assaulted by Democrats who claim they are the “tolerant” ones? Ds are only tolerant if you agree with them (that means they are not tolerant at all).
          h) Think $94 Trillion for the Green New Deal is too expensive? You did see the vote in the Senate on the Green New Deal I hope – no one, not even the D sponsors, voted for it.
          i) Think giving away free medical, free college, free basic income, free housing, free everything will result in massive failure and misery? That’s RADICAL, man!
          i) These are not even the tip of the iceberg.

          I haven’t seen Ds this mad since Rs freed their slaves! THAT’S RADICAL, DUDE!
          😉

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          Middle of the Road Guy November 15, 2019 at 12:16 pm

          God forbid we have friends with different viewpoints.

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        Andrew November 14, 2019 at 3:54 pm

        He doesnt need to mention cycling to get elected in district 2, in fact his 2012 assessment of cycling costing him support is probably even more accurate today, 7 years in the future. There arent a whole lot of things left that arent politically charged in some way.

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    Mark smith November 14, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    So my comment was deleted?

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      David Hampsten November 21, 2019 at 9:41 pm

      You should feel honored. It means that Jonathan cares about you and want to help you avoid writing things that might later embarrass you. It happens to me all the time.

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    Rudi V November 15, 2019 at 8:22 am

    Cyclekrieg
    You do realize that the parties names have stayed the same, but the underlying political ideology has flipped, right? In the 1800s, the Democratic party was the conservative party and the Republicans where the liberal party.Recommended 0

    Yes and in the 20th century the Democrats were the party of the working class and the Republicans were the party of elite capital but now it’s flipped. How else do you explain so many billionaires, hedge funders, and “management consultants” in the Dem primary?

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      Chris I November 15, 2019 at 9:07 am

      False.

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        Rudi V November 15, 2019 at 10:08 am

        Lol. False! With the evidence to prove it! You need to ditch your tired left vs right thinking and realize its about top vs bottom.

        Deval Patrick: Bain Capital (same as Mitt Romney)

        Mayor Pete: MKinsey & Co. (creepy mgmt cult)

        Bloomberg: Uh… Bloomberg

        Tom Steyer: Farillon Capital (manages 20 billion for “high net worth individuals”)

        Kamala Harris: Her 2012 California “mortage fraud strike force” only managed to prosecute 3 cases, and specifically declined to prosecute Steve Mnunchin, but hey that’s 3 more than Obama.

        Corey Booker: Highest fundraiser from wall street in the 2013-14 senatorial cycle. Defender of Mitt Romney.

        Julian Castro: As HUD director sold 98% of delinquent mortgages acquired in its “foreclosure prevention program” to wall street anyway.

        Elizabeth Warren: The new darling of Silicon Valley despite claiming to want to break up big tech.

        And then of course there’s Hillary and Goldman Sachs, and Bill and Goldman Sachs, and Chelsea who’s husband works for Goldman Sachs. Chelsea is also a McKinsey alum.

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          soren November 17, 2019 at 11:23 am

          “…realize its about top vs bottom.”

          Yes it is. White men have been on “top” for many generations while indigenous people, black people, brown people, poor people, and other marginalized peoples have been murdered, brutalized, and oppressed by white judeo-christian tops.

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            David Hampsten November 21, 2019 at 9:56 pm

            I find it easier to think in terms of late 18th century “Radical” versus “Tory” versus “Whig”.

            The Democratic Party was formed by combining the Whigs with the Federalists in the early 1800s. A “Whig” state of mind is one of slow but steady social progress, gradually expanding democracy beyond the white male moneyed classes who wrote the constitution to eventually include the black moneyed classes and maybe even women. The Democratic Party invented Gerrymandering, Jim Crow, and voter registration & suppression, most recently copied & perfected by Tea-Party Republicans. I’m not sure when labor unions became associated with the Democratic Party, presumably after 1900, but I do know that most members of the KKK in the 1920s were registered Democrats.

            The Republicans were at first very radical northerners who wanted to abolish slavery and black suppression nationwide in the mid-1800s and who were very anti-corruption in government at all levels. They wanted a sudden transformation of government and society, by war if necessary (a very Tory way of thinking). Gradually they changed, of course, but were still seen as the more liberal political party up through WW2, at least in the Deep South.

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    David DeFauw November 15, 2019 at 10:23 am

    Here is the link to an opinion peice written by Atkinson this year advocating for the removal of the Klamath River Dams. If the 2nd district is going to elect a republican, which is likely, he seems pretty good. https://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/2019/10/opinion-klamath-dam-removal-is-not-a-partisan-issue.html

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      mh November 15, 2019 at 8:03 pm

      That is a very encouraging piece, and what is best about it is its (lack of) age.

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    Corbin Dallas November 16, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    LOL! Maybe he can ask his fellow Trumpkins why they gutted the transpo budget this year, with 0.0% going to pedestrians or cyclists…

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    I prefer live salmon November 17, 2019 at 10:52 am

    Nice collection of straw men you’ve got there. It’d sure be a shame if facts showed up and something happened to them all.

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