Republican candidates seeking Walden’s seat connect online

MEDFORD, Ore.– The May election is less than a month away and one of the biggest seats in the state is up for grabs as U.S. Representative Greg Walden will not be pursuing another term.

As candidates from each party are working to get the vote out, they’re forced to do things differently this year due to coronavirus.

After 30 years of public service, Walden announced in October he would be stepping down at the end of this term leaving Oregon’s lone Republican-held seat in Washington D.C. available.

Now, candidates are competing in perhaps the strangest election season our country’s ever seen.

“I think this is has been a huge loss for everybody because of this challenge we’re facing now,” said Cliff Bentz, a candidate and former state senator for District 30 in eastern Oregon.

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the normal functions of campaigning to the wind. It’s forced them to find new avenues to get their messages across.

“The telephone town halls are a really interesting technology where you can reach thousands of people very quickly and relatively inexpensively,” said candidate Knute Buehler.

Along with Buehler, 10 candidates are running on the Republican side but four have raised the vast majority of the money.

Former state senators Bentz and Jason Atkinson, former state representative Buehler, and businessman Jimmy Crumpacker. Each candidate agrees there’s no replacing the connection you can make through in-person town halls.

“The old fashioned nature of going and sitting and listening to somebody is far more effective,” said Atkinson.

But they’ve each developed virtual methods to reach Republican voters. From individual phone calls to virtual town halls, they’re trying to get the vote out. It’s not the same as connecting face to face but with three weeks until ballots are due each candidate is doing everything they can to make their voices heard.

Crumpacker’s campaign said he was unable to meet for an interview on Monday. His campaign sent in a statement below:

“While we have canceled our in-person events, we are continuing to connect with voters through 1 on 1 calls with voters, as well as increasing our digital presence. We have participated in tele-townhalls, Facebook live candidate forums, and other online events so that we can continue to engage with the voters in Oregon’s Second Congressional District. We have also delivered hundreds of yard signs and field signs to supporters throughout the district which convey our campaigns “Pro-Life, Pro-Trump, Pro-Gun” message prominently.”

If you would like to learn what forms of virtual town halls or meetings are available for each candidate, you can find information on their campaign websites or by calling their campaign numbers.

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