Democrats have many good candidates seeking to win the May party primary and go on to challenge for the seat currently held by Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River. Vote for Jenni Neahring of Bend.

She’s a doctor who has worked in palliative care and also as a nephrologist, which is a kidney health specialty. Neahring would make a deep contribution in Congress to any debate about health care. She wants to do what can be done to repair the Affordable Care Act. Neahring is not convinced that a single-payer system is the answer, but she says it should be considered as an option. She believes that an opportunity has been missed to lower prescription drug prices — particularly by looking at the role of benefit managers.

Neahring has and should be expected to have good insights about health matters. She also has done her homework on many other issues. For instance, she is focused on ways the federal government can do more to support Oregon’s rural economy. She wants to see incentives to expand rural broadband and other infrastructure. She doesn’t believe the federal government has struck the right balance in managing its public lands to ensure wildfires don’t devour any chance to carefully log. She has reservations about the idea of charging for and putting new limits on access to wilderness.

We could go on about her policy positions, but she distinguishes herself from her six opponents in other ways. Many of them have similar views. With Neahring, it’s the total package — intellect, thoughtfulness, clarity of expression, debating skill, charm and much more. In Congress, she would be a powerful advocate for the district.

The striking thing about the Democratic primary is the strength of the field. Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a moderate Democrat and former engineer and city manager who lives in Terrebonne, is a clear standout. There’s also Tim White, a retired Chrysler division chief financial officer; Raz Mason, a Hood River hospital chaplain; Eric Burnette, the retired executive director of the Oregon Board of Maritime Pilots; and Jim Crary, a retired contract attorney who can go into great detail on many policy matters. Lastly, there’s Hood River stonemason and ski instructor Michael Byrne. He would bring an uncommon and likely underrepresented perspective to Congress after having spent his career planting trees, fighting forest fires, picking fruit, quarrying and shaping stone and teaching 1,000 people to ski.

But vote Neahring in the May primary. She is not stridently partisan or ideological. She would be an effective problem solver for the district for Democrats, Republicans or anyone.

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