Senior Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon has just returned from a town hall trip where he spoke with constituents in rural Wasco, Morrow, Umatilla, and Jackson counties.
Regarding concerns from rural constituents, Wyden explained, “they have been talking to me about agriculture, they’ve been talking to me about water, they’ve been talking to me about prescription drug prices. But what you may find surprising is in five open-to-all meetings – in counties that are pretty red, politically – I did not get one question about the former president.”
Town halls held by the senator coincided with former president Trump’s indictment on 34 corporate fraud charges related to hush money paid to ad*lt film actress Stormy Daniels. Despite his family’s strong views on “the rule of law and the rule of law applying to everybody,” Wyden said that he would not be providing “running commentary” on the judicial procedures surrounding the indictment.
Instead, the senator told KOIN 6 News that he’s concentrating on the problems that matter to the people of Oregon, including controversial topics like the Greater Idaho Movement.
“People ask me about this whole question of Oregon seceding and somehow becoming part of Idaho, and we had a very thoughtful conversation,” Wyden said of his town halls. “It was an Oregon way conversation where we weren’t discussing Democrats and Republicans. We were talking about ways to address their issues.”
Oregon Republican Senator Dennis Linthicum of Klamath Falls proposed Senate Joint Memorial 2, often known as the Greater Idaho bill, on the Senate floor on January 10. The fact that Idaho has a sales tax and Oregon does not is one such problem.
He also argues that the state border relocation poses problems for Oregonians involved in agriculture and other trades due to water rights difficulties. “We were focused on things that really matter to Oregonians,” Wyden said.
The initiative, according to Wyden, “certainly is part of a response to the frustration folks in rural Oregon have about the valley and metropolitan areas.” Eastern Oregon is more culturally, politically, and economically comparable to Idaho than western Oregon, according to Matt McCaw, a spokesperson for the Greater Idaho Movement, who KOIN 6 News interviewed.
McCaw added, “our movement is about self-determination and matching people to government that they want and that matches their values. In Oregon, we’ve had this urban-rural divide for a very long time.”
Wyden said he heard worries about U.S.-directed expenditure on the war in Ukraine and the Greater Idaho Movement. The senator stressed America’s interest in supporting the “freedom warriors” in Ukraine and the need to have spending supervision.
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Wyden says he is honored to serve as a representative for Oregon and is dedicated to holding town halls in all 36 counties to hear from his people.
“It goes back to the question of the Idaho movement and other kinds of political issues where there is division in our state. For a lot of Oregonians, D.C. might as well be Mars for all the connection it really has with us,” Wyden said.
“So, when I break it down in terms of agriculture, roads, and rural schools and holding down the costs of their medicine, they think those are common interests. Those bring us together, and I keep telling elected officials in the valley that’s what you ought to try to do in the state legislature and other political bodies. You ought to be trying to build coalitions with people who not always see the world exactly like you do.”