PORTLAND, Ore. — Rep. Greg Walden, the only Republican member of Congress in Oregon, will retire in January 2021.
Walden, 62, was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1998. He serves Oregon’s 2nd District, which spans eastern and central Oregon, and is the former chairman and currently the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
In a statement, he said he's confident he could win re-election in 2020 but said he wants to "pursue new challenges and opportunities," and will officially retire in January 2021.
"Based on recent polling, strong fundraising, and the backing of my wife and family, I am confident I could earn the support of 2nd District voters for another term. I’m also optimistic that a path exists for Republicans to recapture a majority in the House, and that I could return for two more years as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee," Walden said in a statement released by his office. "But I also know that for me, the time has come to pursue new challenges and opportunities.
"So, I will not seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, nor election to any other office, but instead I will close the public service chapter of my life, thankful for the friends I’ve made and the successful work we’ve done together," Walden said.
In the statement, Walden noted several accomplishments during his political career, including finding "solutions to the opioid crisis," improving "forest health," increasing "access to high speed broadband," helping "thousands of Oregonians get ... Social Security, Medicare, and veterans' benefits," fighting to "save the fire-fighting tanker base in Medford, the VA facility in White City," and standing up for ranchers and farmers.
Walden is the 19th Republican in the House to announce they will not seek reelection this year. By comparison, seven Democrats have said they will not seek reelection.
Read the complete statement from Walden's office:
Today, Greg Walden (R-Hood River) announced that he will not seek a new term in Congress in the 2020 elections.
In a video statement released Monday by his office, Walden said:
“At the end of this term, I will have devoted 30 years to the important calling of public service; of helping bring people together to solve problems and leave our communities, our beautiful state and our great nation better off for the next generation.
“Together we’ve worked to find solutions to the opioid crisis, improve forest health, and increase access to high speed broadband.
“My team and I have helped thousands of Oregonians get the Social Security, Medicare, and veterans’ benefits they earned and deserved.
“I fought to save the fire-fighting tanker base in Medford, the VA facility in White City, and I’ve stood up for the ranching and farming way of life that is eastern Oregon.
“Rural Oregon values run deeply in my veins. My ancestors arrived here in 1845 and I grew up on a cherry orchard in The Dalles with parents who survived the Great Depression. They taught me the true meaning of community; the importance of giving back; and the value of hard work. That’s why I’ve given it my all for the people and the way of life we so enjoy in Oregon.
“Based on recent polling, strong fundraising, and the backing of my wife and family, I am confident I could earn the support of 2nd District voters for another term. I’m also optimistic that a path exists for Republicans to recapture a majority in the House, and that I could return for two more years as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“But I also know that for me, the time has come to pursue new challenges and opportunities.
“So, I will not seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, nor election to any other office, but instead I will close the public service chapter of my life, thankful for the friends I’ve made and the successful work we’ve done together.
“It’s been an honor and privilege to represent the people of Oregon’s 2nd District in the U.S. House. Know that I will continue to work hard on their behalf as long as I’m in office. Thank you.”
Walden is the former chairman, and now top Republican, of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Under Walden’s leadership, 93 percent of the bills approved by the committee received bipartisan support on the House floor, with the bulk of the work becoming law. He led efforts to tackle the opioid crisis, increase access to high speed broadband service, modernize the energy sector and move forward on medical research and innovation.
Walden and his wife, Mylene, owned and operated radio stations in Hood River and The Dalles for more than two decades. They are the parents of two sons, Anthony, 29, and Garrison, who died of a congenital heart defect in 1994. He served six years in the Oregon House, (1989-95), including as House Majority Leader during the 1991 and 1993 sessions, before serving two years in the Oregon Senate, (1995-97).
As Deputy Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, (NRCC) Walden helped Republicans regain control of the U.S. House in 2010 and keep it in 2012. His colleagues twice elected him Chairman of the NRCC (for the 2014 and 2016 cycles) which produced the biggest back-to-back GOP majorities in U.S. history.
Walden was elected to Congress in 1998 with 61 percent of the vote. He held every challenger to less than 40 percent of the vote in every election including in 2018.
“I am deeply thankful to my supporters who made such a difference at the grassroots level to help achieve huge victories in each election. Likewise, I could not have run or served effectively without the support of my wife and family who backed me every step of the way. To them, I owe the most special thank you,” said Walden.