Former state Sen. Jason Atkinson (R-Central Point) announced today he is running in the Second Congressional District to succeed U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon), who announced last month he would not be seeking re-election.
Atkinson served two years in the House of Representatives and then served three terms as a state senator in Southern Oregon from 2001-2013. He ran a failed campaign for the GOP nomination for governor in 2006.
After leaving office in 2013 he produced the film A River Between Us, detailing the ongoing war over the restoration of the Klamath River.
In a Huffington Post article Atkinson wrote in early 2016 after the release of the film, he compared part of the process of creating the film to "fighting the darkness of political ignorance like a wack-a-mole at the county fair with people who were elected."
Atkinson's dip into the film industry wasn't his only instance of environmental advocacy, something that created fissures between him and other Republican politicians while he served in the legislature.
In 2011, while serving as a state senator, Atkinson co-sponsored the bill that would have made Oregon the first state in the nation to ban the use of plastic bags in grocery stores. The bill died before it received a vote on the senate floor.
Atkinson also served as an Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commissioner for the Second Congressional District, and his family owns a farm in Southern Oregon.
"It has been my honor to represent Southern Oregon and be a champion in the State Legislature for the issues we care about most," Atkinson said in a statement. "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 is the second politician to announce his candidacy for Walden's seat. Last month, Sen. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) announced he was vying for the seat.