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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 welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

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Bjorn Warloe
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Bjorn Warloe

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.

Brandon Warlock
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Brandon Warlock

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

BradWagon
Subscriber

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

Chris I
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Chris I

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/

Jim Lee
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Jim Lee

Campaigning on a fixie…wow!

dan
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dan

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?

Liz
Guest
Liz

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

J_R
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J_R

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.

Ron Swaren
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Ron Swaren

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

pdx2wheeler
Subscriber

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.

Mark smith
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Mark smith

So my comment was deleted?

Rudi V
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Rudi V

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?

David DeFauw
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David DeFauw

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

Corbin Dallas
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Corbin Dallas

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

I prefer live salmon
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I prefer live salmon

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.