U.S. Rep Greg Walden, Son of an Oregon Dynasty, is Now the State's Line to President Trump

Here are five things you should know about Walden.

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) just became a huge deal.

Walden represents most of the state east of the Cascades, and while he's held office in Oregon nearly continuously since 1988, he has gotten less attention than his seven Democratic colleagues. That will change now with Republican President Donald Trump in the White House—alongside a congressional majority that Walden, 59, helped build as chairman of the Republican Congressional Candidate Committee for the past two elections.

Here's what you should know about Walden.

1. He's from pioneer stock.

In a state where fewer than half the residents were born in Oregon, Walden traces his ancestry to settlers who arrived by wagon train in 1845.

2. He's part of a political (mini-)dynasty.

Walden's father, Paul, served three terms in the Oregon House representing Hood River. After graduating from the University of Oregon, Greg Walden worked for U.S. Rep. Denny Smith (R-Ore.) and then won a seat in the Oregon House in 1988, also representing Hood River.

3. Tragedy shaped his political career.

In 1993, Walden, then Oregon House majority leader, was preparing to run for governor against a former Senate president named Dr. John Kitzhaber (D-Roseburg). Walden and his wife, Mylene, discovered their second, not-yet-born son had a heart ailment. Walden abandoned the governor's race and surrendered his House seat. His son died 27 hours after being born.

4. A scandal brought him to Congress.

U.S. Rep. Wes Cooley (R-Ore.) replaced longtime incumbent Rep. Bob Smith in 1994 in the 2nd Congressional District. But Cooley was forced to resign after he was caught lying about his military record. Smith came back for a term but anointed Walden his successor. Walden won election in 1998 and has held the seat ever since.

5. He's got friends in high—and low—places.

When Vice President-elect Mike Pence served in Congress from 2001 through 2012, the former radio broadcaster built a strong relationship with Walden, who had owned two Hood River radio stations. A strong advocate for farmers, ranchers and timber interests, Walden has also supported a key Portland industry—he co-founded the House Small Brewers Caucus in 2007.

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