Michael Byrne’s pitch to become the next representative for Oregon’s second district begins with a cliché before evolving into a biography.
“I’m not a politician,” he said in an interview with the East Oregonian Tuesday. “I’m a college dropout. I’m a stonemason.”
The 65-year-old Hood River resident was making a swing through Eastern Oregon between masonry jobs, motivated to campaign for Democratic nominee for the seat because of his “righteous grandparent’s anger” over the presidency of Donald Trump, congressional Republicans and Rep. Greg Walden, the second district’s nine-term Republican incumbent.
“I got pissed off,” Byrne said. “Being pissed off is a terrible way to live.”
Byrne said he’s running as a Democrat because Walden is a Republican and he supports ideas like personal responsibility.
But his political platform is also stacked with liberal positions like a transition away from fossil fuels and Medicare for all.
One of seven candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, Byrne said there is “little daylight” between himself and the other candidates when it comes to the issues.
Byrne said he even encouraged the candidacies of Chris Van Dyke, a Bend communications consultant and a former Marion County district attorney, and Rachael Scdoris-Salerno, a dogsled racer from Bend, only to see former decline to enter the race and the latter drop out.
Besides Byrne, the other candidates in the race are Eric Burnette; Jim Crary, a retired attorney and oil company executive from Ashland and the 2016 Democratic nominee; Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a former Phoenix, Oregon, city manager; Steven Reynolds; Timothy White; and Ross Wordhouse, a Bend businessman.
A Democrat hasn’t won District 2, which spans nearly 70,000 square miles across two-thirds of the state, since 1981.
Although Walden has amassed more than $2.2 million in his campaign account and Byrne has only raised $1,000, Byrne thinks he can win the nomination and beat Walden.
If he did win, Byrne said he would serve for only a few terms before ceding the seat to someone younger. His campaign’s Facebook page reflects his confidence: Byrne’s URL is facebook.com/CongressmanByrne.