Democrats have held the 5th since 1997, but neither Darlene Hooley (serving from 1997-2009) nor Kurt Schrader (from 2009 to the present) cracked 60% on election day. Instead, the Democratic candidates often linger in the mid-low 50s. Even in 2006 and 2008, both strong years for Democrats, Hooley and Schrader both hung around 54%. So this is a district that could swing the Republicans' way.
Bruun seems to be focusing on four issues: spending, health-care, national security, and job creation. It is telling that now many Republicans are using health-care, which was long regarded as a Democratic strength, as a talking point. On health-care, Bruun takes the free-market tack:
I believe that you can't fix healthcare until you implement free market reforms. I also believe that you can't address these free market reforms unless it's done on a bi-partisan basis. There's no doubt that bi-partisanship here is a challenge but it has to be the goal. The European-style nationalization of healthcare that we have been witnessing since the Summer of 2009 is not bi-partisan, and would and will exasperate every problem that now exists in healthcare. Costs will grow, quality and access will shrink, and ultimately only the very rich few will be able to opt out of the system. The rest of us will be stuck, and that's not healthy for America.
Instead, congress should look to create a real market for healthcare. Let individuals and families enjoy the same tax benefits that companies enjoy; so that if we need to, we can shop for health coverage. Let Americans be the customer for once, not just the patient. This would certainly solve the portability problem and begin to reduce costs.
Let Americans buy insurance wherever they want, even across state lines. If it's an Oregon policy, great. But if the best policy for a family is to be found in Florida, or Colorado, so be it. Let us buy it. Open interstate commerce is the responsibility of congress to promote and protect… so do it, congress! Also, let's fix our tort system to reduce the cost of defensive medicine.
Bruun is also reaching out to seniors in his claim that we need to "protect Medicare for seniors by fixing Medicare, not by raiding it to support a fatally-flawed healthcare gambit."
Though Bruun is probably the favorite to win the Republican primary (contributions are coming in at a healthy pace), Fred Thompson (no, not that Fred Thompson) is also running. Thompson is hitting a lot of the same themes---health-care, spending, and defense.
In order to take back the House, Republicans will need to build a majority district-by-district. The last Republican to hold the 5th, Jim Bunn, was elected in 1994. Maybe another Republican wave will carry the 5th in 2010.
CORRECTION: Greg Walden holds the 2nd District seat. Original text fixed.