HERMISTON -- Without an entourage or even an assistant, John McColgan arrived in town Friday driving his Toyota Corolla, toting the Thomas Jefferson costume he wore earlier in the Westward Ho! Parade in Pendleton and a sandwich.
The Democrat, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, a Republican from Hood River, has made four stops in Umatilla County. The 2nd District covers Eastern Oregon and some counties in southwest Oregon.
"It's important to get to all the counties, every one of them at least a couple of times," said McColgan, 49.
He declines political action committee contributions and those over $500. He won't be able to afford television commercials, often considered the life-blood of any modern campaign. He often lodges with supporters when traveling through the district.
"It's definitely tempting," McColgan said, mentioning offers of financial help from education associations and labor unions. "But if I take one then where do I draw the line?"
Drawing the line on economic issues has been a common theme of his campaign. Focusing on what he sees as the inconsistencies and shortcomings of President Bus on issues such as the Iraq war and tax cuts, the construction contractor from Talent met with a group of about 10 supporters in an informal question-and-answer session at the Hermiston Community center.
Part of his message is that the wealthy are not being charged their fair share.
He rejected the Republican refrain that Democrats are wasteful spenders in Washington DC, reminding the group that Republicans occupy the White House and have majorities in both chambers of Congress.
"Republicans run everything," he said. "If somebody is wasting money, who is it?"
Rick Rice, a public relations official for Good Shepherd Hospital who turned out to meet McColgan, disagreed with the candidate's opposition to setting limits on the amount of money patients can collect from lawsuits for pain and suffering when a doctor is found to be at fault.
But Rice said he still planned to vote for McColgan.
"Greg Walden is a good guy, but (McColgan) is an impressive young man and we need more Democrats in national politics," Rice said.
McColgan considers himself "pro-life," but he calls it an "overall, comprehensive respect for human life," which includes typically liberal positions such as opposition to the death penalty and war and support for increased spending in the health care and education arenas. Conversely he sticks to traditionally conservative positions on embryonic stem cell research and doctor-assisted suicide.