CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — Southern Oregon native and former state lawmaker Jason Atkinson announced on Tuesday that he will join the race for U.S. Representative Greg Walden's seat in 2020 as a Republican.
Atkinson won a bid for Oregon state representative at the age of 26 before winning three successive terms as a state senator. He withdrew from politics in 2013 to spend more time with his family.
“It has been my honor to represent Southern Oregon and be a champion in the State Legislature for the issues we care about most. After heartfelt counsel with my family, I have decided I can continue to best serve our Oregon by filing to run for Representative to the Second Congressional District,” Atkinson said in a statement.
Rep. Walden announced at the end of October that he would not seek re-election in 2020 for leadership of Oregon's 2nd Congressional District, despite winning a commanding lead in every election since his first race roughly 20 years ago.
Since Walden's announcement, there has been a flurry of speculation over who might run to replace him. Former state rep and Kate Brown challenger Knute Buehler has said that he would consider running, while Walden's last adversary Jamie McLeod-Skinner said that she won't run for the 2nd District seat again.
Prior to Atkinson's filing, state Sen. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) and Mark R. Roberts had filed to run as Republicans in the May 2020 primary. Roberts previously ran as an Independent in the 2018 election, garnering 4.2 percent of the vote against Walden and McLeod-Skinner.
Democrats John P. Holm, Raz Mason, and Isabella Tibbetts have also filed to vie for the 2nd District seat.
Atkinson said that he's tapped former Trump senior strategist Jim Dornan, "who shares the Atkinson campaign’s vision of values and ideals," to help run his 2020 campaign.
“I’m excited about this race and Washington DC is buzzing about Jason," Dornan said. "After he took time off from public service to see his son through high school, the time is right for his return to public life. He has a lot of people very excited.”
Atkinson graduated from Ashland High School and earned his undergraduate degrees in history and political science from Southern Oregon University. His wife Stephanie graduated from South Medford High School School and has a degree in dental hygiene from Oregon Institute of Technology. They own a farm in Central Point.
“I have always believed public service is honorable and I will do my best to make a positive impact on people’s lives. I vow to take all of the voices from southern, central and eastern Oregon, a lifetime of relationships, with me to our Nation’s Capital and uphold the legacy of Congressman Greg Walden,” Atkinson said.