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Oregon: Walden’s NRCC Post Raises Questions on ’10

It’s too early to tell whether the appointment of Rep. Greg Walden as vice chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee makes it more or less likely that he’ll run for statewide office in 2010.

Walden, the lone Republican in the Beaver State Congressional delegation, is occasionally mentioned as a possible challenger to Sen. Ron Wyden (D) next year and is more frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for the vacant gubernatorial seat.

Walden’s spokesman, Andrew Whelan, told the Oregonian on Monday that the Congressman’s new position at the NRCC should have no bearing on his political plans for 2010.

“There’s going to be a time and a place for that consideration, but we’re not there,” Whelan told the paper.

The Oregon Democratic Party was quick to criticize Walden, noting that he was part of the NRCC’s auditing team when the committee’s former treasurer allegedly looted tens of thousands of dollars.

Oregon Republicans are in worse shape politically than the GOP is on the national level. With the defeat of then-Sen. Gordon Smith (R) in November, the GOP is shut out of statewide office for the first time since Oregon gained statehood in 1859.

The party has no obvious candidate for governor next year, when Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) will be term-limited. Along with Walden and Smith, former TV news anchor Rick Dancer and businessman Allen Alley are mentioned as possible candidates.

Wyden, as of now, is seen as a shoo-in for a fourth full term.

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