Pamplin Media Group – Democrat Challenges Bentz for Congressional Seat

Joe Yetter’s views are a stark contrast to the incumbent Republican

Joe Yetter does not consider himself a career politician and he probably would not have sought a seat in Congress had it not been for a change in district boundaries.

A retired US Army colonel, doctor and teacher, Yetter was content to spend his retirement as a farmer in Azalea, a small community between Grants Pass and Roseburg. But when Oregon’s congressional district boundaries were redrawn after the 2020 census and his community grew from the state’s fourth district to its second, he became interested in running for office.

“I really felt like the people of the second congressional district weren’t well represented in terms of values ​​and interests by Cliff Bentz,” he explained.

Yetter will face Bentz, the Republican incumbent, in the 2022 general election in November, after easily winning the Democratic Party nomination in a two-candidate race against Adam Prine. He criticizes Bentz’s voting record, pointing to several examples.

“On January 6, three days after he raised his right hand and swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, he violated that, in my opinion, by voting not to elect the electors of Pennsylvania,” a he declared. “The people of Pennsylvania had spoken – they had spoken in greater numbers than the same numbers that had elected him to office. The courts had ruled that it was valid and so on. He wanted to substitute his judgment and the judgment of the fake voters for the real voters and for the real voters of Pennsylvania.”

Still, he added that he objected to Bentz voting against “funding the VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) to cover veterans who have been injured by inhaling fumes from toxic burning fireplaces. in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It offended me deeply,” he said.

He went on to note Bentz’s votes against the Violence Against Women Act, against capping insulin prices for diabetics, and against funding infant formula. He called his opponent a “radical conception of the right to life”, which would be against in vitro fertilization, many forms of birth control and abortion.

“I’m pro-choice, pro-birth control and pro-women’s rights,” he said.

Finally, Yetter criticized Bentz’s votes against the US bailout and the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“Some Republicans voted for it, he voted against it.”

If elected, Yetter has identified three big issues or projects he hopes to address. The first is the preservation of democracy. He stressed that he would once again support the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, vote to reinstate the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and revisit the Voter Count Act, “so that the way in which voters are selected be clear”.

Preserving individual freedom is another goal highlighted by Yetter.

“With the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the removal of choice, this is a huge violation of a woman’s right to choose,” he said. “It will increase the maternal mortality rate in the United States by perhaps 21%, and we already have the worst maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world.”

He went on to add that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ opinion “clearly indicates that other individual rights are at stake”, including the right to marry regardless of gender and race.

“Fundamentally, individual autonomy is at stake,” he said. “It’s really important to me.”

The other big issue that Yetter prioritizes is prosperity. He spoke about a variety of things that he believes improve people’s lives, including health care and improving infrastructure. He pointed out that while Bentz is “opposed to all US government health care,” he favors universal, single-payer health care.

“I am in favor of improved types of infrastructure for roads, bridges, airports, schools, hospitals and any other measure that improves the lives of individuals in terms of housing, employment, parental and family leave , etc.”

Facing Bentz, Yetter knows he faces an uphill battle — a Democrat is rarely elected to represent Oregon’s second congressional district. Only two Democrats have held the office in its history – Walter M. Pierce from 1933 to 1943 and Al Ullman from 1957 to 1981.

“A generic Democrat and a generic Republican running, the Republican is going to win about 60/40,” he said. “But we don’t live in a generic time. We have Supreme Court decisions, we have shootings, we have a health care crisis, a climate crisis. And I don’t think I’m a generic candidate because that I am a doctor, a veteran, a teacher, a farmer and a gun owner.”

Yetter toured the district, stopping in Prineville and other communities, reaching out to voters, many of whom are conservative.

“I’ve heard a lot about Second Amendment problems,” he said, again emphasizing that he’s a gun owner with a variety of guns he’s owned for years. He added that he is a supporter of the Second Amendment and has been a member of the NRA in the past, although he is no longer.

“I think the NRA was a wonderful gun safety and accountability organization. I don’t think it’s that way anymore,” he said.

Yetter said he favors sensible gun regulation, including universal background checks and age restrictions on automatic weapons.

“I am not in favor of registration or confiscation or anything that is often attributed to liberals,” he said.

In addition to Second Amendment rights, Yetter has engaged “people who call themselves conservatives” on a variety of other topics, including public land use and forest management. He concluded that people have the same common values ​​and the same common interests that they want to see addressed.

“Everyone wants to breathe clean air, drink clean water and not burn in a fire. And everyone has a right to those things,” he said. “People have similar hopes, dreams and aspirations. If they can work together – and I think I can – then they can achieve those goals.”

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About Michael S. Montanez

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