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Oregon Congress

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In this paper I have chosen to research and present my comparative findings of two members of the house of representatives. The congress members are both from the state of Oregon. Oregon has a total of seven members of congress, five of them belonging to the house. The two individuals are from opposing political parties, they are D-Rep. David Wu from the 1st congressional district and R-Rep. Greg Walden, elected into the 2nd district. What I found interesting throughout this study is that each member represents a diverse culture with different interests, these interests are often reflected in the members issues and voting record.

Rep. David Wu and Rep. Greg Walden are both serving in their fifth term. Both of the men were elected first into congress in the same year, 1998 however, their backgrounds and political stances could not be more different. David Wu, age 52 is a resident of Portland, Oregon. He is the first and only Chinese-American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was educated at Stanford University where he received a BS, attended Med school at Harvard, and received a joint degree in law from Yale University. Congressman Wu's prior legal experience is limited to a clerkship held with a Federal judge in Portland. Prior to becoming a member of congress Mr. Wu's "distinguished legal career started In 1988 when he co-founded the law firm of Cohen & Wu. For a decade, the firm successfully served the high technology industry and numerous small businesses across Northwest Oregon." (1)

Rep. Greg Walden sits in the seat of Oregon's second congressional district. He is 51 with a wife and family whom reside in Hood River, Oregon. He is the only Republican House representative for the state of Oregon. In 1981, prior to pursuing his political career he received a BS at the University of Oregon. Mr. Walden's political experience includes working as Press Secretary for Congressman Denny Smith for four years, Chief of Staff to Congressman Denny Smith for two years. He was the house majority leader from 1995-1997, house representative from 1989-1995, the assistant majority leader and state senator from 1995-1997 and assistant majority whip and assistant deputy whip from 2001/2002- present.(2) In addition to his political career Greg Walden was recently the owner of Columbia Gorge Broadcasters, Inc. He sold it last year to prevent conflict of interests between his business ventures and his political career.

Congressman Wu is responsible for Oregon's first Congressional District. According to 2000 U.S census, the first district has a population of 684,280 people, with nearly 75% of the people over voting age. Its gender is equally divided among male and females. The majority race is very clear with 84% of its population being white. Hispanics make up another 9.4%, Blacks make up 1.2%, and Asians make up 5.1%. This is greater than the national average which is 75.1% white. It includes five counties in Northwest Oregon. This district covers a diverse landscape ranging from the major metropolitan city of Portland through the west hills and forested region on down to the rural district of the small towns dotted along the coast. With each region within the district different issues and interests arise offering opportunities for Congressman Wu to find solutions. Among the city of Portland issues consist of the epidemically proportioned use of methamphetamines, the industrial and technological growth of the city, and the trade issues concerning its prominent international companies. To the west of the city and down to the shore the difficult task of maintaining Oregon's timber and fishing industry while balancing environmental concerns raises issues, as well as boosting tourism among small beach communities whose fishing industry has all but been wiped away. The district is primarily democratic gaining much support from Democratic activists with liberal views and environmental concerns. The small minority of republicans consist of pro-life members of the Christian right. "Partisan affiliations make it a toss up district with Democrats holding a 20,000 registration edge over Republicans." ( 3 ) District voter ideologies are shaped by suburbanization, in-migration, especially from California, and "increasing anti-tax, anti-government paradigms, the latter evident with the passage of property tax limitation initiatives in 1990 and 1996. (3)

Congressman Walden is responsible for the Second Congressional District. It is the second largest district in the United States. Despite its size, the population of Oregon's second congressional district is nearly equal to the much smaller geographical region of the First district. It has a population of 684,280 people and nearly 75% of its population has reached the required age to vote. Racial division among its population are as follows, 89.1% is White, this beats the national average of 75.1%, .4% is black, 8.8% Hispanic and .8% is Asian. The rest of the population consists of American and Alaskan natives, and Pacific Islanders. This district spans across "20 counties in central, southern and eastern Oregon, covering more than 71,000 square miles from the Cascade Mountains east to Idaho, and from the Columbia River south to California and Nevada."(4) Issues concerning its constituents include environmental issues such as maintaining healthy forests and restoring salmon populations to the contribution to the fight against methamphetamines and providing "access to quality and affordable health care among rural citizens."(4) Private interests are concerned with protecting the Broadcaster Freedom Act and supporting the areas growing technology sectors beginning with its telecommunications companies.

According to their websites the issues of the representatives appear to be greatly in line with the concerns of their constituents. Congressman Wu's priorities include: "improving the Nation's public education system and making college more affordable; growing Oregon's economy by encouraging new business investment and supporting high tech research, improving the healthcare system and the Medicare prescription drug benefit, preserving Social Security and protecting the natural environment." (1) While his ideas appear to be general and nationally based, Mr. Greg Walden's concerns focus more at the local level. His concerns include protecting the First Amendment and broadcaster's rights, keeping the federal government accountable to rural forested areas of Oregon's Western region, advocacy of renewable energy sources and an oil independent nation, the fight against methamphetamines, providing access to quality and affordable health care among rural citizens, maintaining healthy forests and restoring the salmon populations,



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