By editorial board • 

Republicans in House District 23 need Bledsoe’s radical moderation

The state of Oregon isn’t in a good place. It faces an ongoing Public Employee Retirement System financial crisis; some of the lowest high school graduation rates in the nation; repeat episodes of state agency mismanagement and scandal; crumbling roads and decaying bridges; a disgraceful foster care system; and millions of Medicaid and health care money squandered.

Without delay, Oregon needs a way forward. It can’t afford to waste legislative seats on mindless ideologues whose main objective seems to be obstruction.

For that reason, we recommend Republican voters in rural District 23 reject incumbent Mike Nearman in the May primary and pass the reins to Kris Bledsoe.  She would prove vastly more effective.

Bledsoe’s entry into the race caught her circle of friends and acquaintances by surprise.

She confided how it even angered some, aghast she would switch her registration from unaffiliated to Republican to make the race. That’s a sign in itself of the extreme partisanship plaguing politics in our state and nation today.

She’s a longstanding fiscal conservative. Seeing her run on the GOP ticket would have seemed utterly ordinary to past generations of Oregonians, who celebrated moderate Republicans like Tom McCall, Bob Packwood, Norma Paulus, Vic Atiyeh, Mark Hatfield and Dave Frohnmayer.

The district itself has a lengthy history of moderate Republican representatives, including Lane Shetterly, John Schoon and Jim Thompson. Unlike the firebrand Nearman, they commanded the kind of broad bi-partisan respect that allowed them to work both sides of the aisle effectively.

For many district voters who twice supported Nearman over Thompson, moderation has become a radical heresy. But where has that gotten the GOP? Suffering a 30-year gap between winning runs for state office and getting constantly ridden roughshod in the Legislature. The GOP’s relentless embrace of far-right social initiatives has us succumbing to one-party rule, which is inevitably detrimental.

Bledsoe boasts more than 20 years experience in finance, including stints running her own business. And she is well known for advocacy work on multiple platforms.

While voters may disagree with some of her stances, her body of work proves she would effectively and energetically represent her constituents. She would listen well and work hard.

If House 23 Republicans want to help move Oregon forward, they will fare far better with Bledsoe than the obstructionist Nearman. He will never be a player in Salem, but she could be.

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