Former Oregon State Senator and Republican nominee for Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives Cliff Bentz made a visit to Gilliam County on October 7th.
Penny and Skye Krebs hosted Senator Bentz, Senator Bill Hansell and approximately 50 people at their home on Willow Creek.
Bentz and Hansell are touring Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District and are speaking with voters in the runup to the election on Nov. 3rd.
Senator Bentz mingled with guests as kids practiced roping in the driveway and visitors enjoyed the warm evening. Several people from Morrow County and Gilliam County were in attendance, including Gilliam County Commissioner candidates Leslie Wetherell and Pat Shannon.
Senator Hansell introduced Senator Bentz and spoke about the work that they had together in the Oregon Legislature. Hansell credited Bentz with achievements in the Oregon Senate and spoke about the challenges that they had faced with Democratic sponsored bills such as the failed cap and trade legislation.
Senator Bentz then took the stage and spoke about his time growing up on a ranch in Harney County and the struggles that he saw his family go through. Bentz remembers the realities of economic hardship and how his parents pushed education and hard work.
At 14, Bentz left home and enrolled at Regis Catholic High School, a private school in Stayton, OR. Bentz says that the experience was jarring for a country kid, but he excelled in his studies. Bentz went on to get his Bachelor’s Degree at Eastern Oregon State University and then a law-degree from Lewis and Clark University.
Bentz says that he has provided legal counsel for many families in the 2nd Congressional District.
His ability to find common ground and his familiarity with people in the 2nd District helped in his primary campaign, where he was vastly outspent by three other Republicans.
The Senator told The Times-Journal that he won the Republican Primary because he is from the 2nd District and has fought for it in his professional and political career.
Bentz said that the challenges for Eastern Oregon have steadily grown in his 12 years in the Oregon Legislature. Last year, Bentz says that Republicans in the Oregon Senate reached a tipping point when they were shutout of talks on climate and House Bill 2020, which sought to impose a tax on emissions from fossil fuels, among other sweeping environmental changes.
Bentz told the crowd that he worked to find a common ground with Democrats in Salem and admitted that there would be challenges to working with the Democratic controlled House of Representatives in Washington D.C. However, Bentz said that he was going to Washington to bring the concerns of people and that he was not going to push his own agenda.
Senator Bentz called upon attendees to be vocal and to tell him what they wanted him to do.
The Times-Journal asked Senator Bentz about a perceived lack of representation by people in Eastern Oregon who feel they have no voice in Salem or in D.C. When asked about groups like the State of Jefferson or the movement to make Eastern Oregon part of Idaho, Senator Bentz said that he understands the frustration that people are feeling. However, he said that people need to find ways to engage their elected officials and to push back against the priorities of the majority.
Senator Bentz is expected to easily win the election against his Democratic opponent on November 3rd. Looking to the future, Senator Bentz says that the 2nd District is getting more populous and that the growth in Hood River and in Bend might be a concern for the GOP. Bentz said that despite demographic changes, the people in Eastern Oregon deserve representation that reflects who they are and what values they hold dear.