History suggests Republican Scott Bruun has an uphill battle to unseat Rep. Kurt Schrader, the freshman Democratic congressman who represents Oregon’s Fifth District.

But Bruun, a West Linn resident who has spent six years in the Oregon House of Representatives, sees an opportunity here. After beating primary opponent Fred Thompson by nearly a two-to-one margin, he feels the district’s relatively balanced political leanings are enough to put him over the top.

Many political observers are calling this the race to watch in Oregon. The Cook Political Report rates the race as Lean Democratic, which means while the Democrat holds the advantage the contest is expected to be competitive.

With this in mind the Keizertimes sat down with Bruun for a wide-ranging question and answer session.

Q: So why are you running?

A: “I think we are absolutely barrelling down the wrong course as a nation. We are borrowing and spending and incurring debt at a rate that absolutely cannot be sustained.

I look at it for my kids and grandkids and say, ‘This is not a country we want to hand them. … indebted way beyond what we can sustain.

“I think we spent really the last year and a half spinning our wheels on things the majority of Americans don’t want. They didn’t want the health care plan.  They emphatically didn’t want the stimulus plan. They want a job. … Our federal government has completely failed to do that.”

“If you want to distill it … You have a government, and Kurt Schrader is part of that, that has no faith and trust in the American people. So everything done is a top down, command and control approach, where I would want the exact opposite of that.”

Q: Based on events thus far in the Gulf of Mexico, what should happen to BP?

A: “I don’t think we have enough information to know whether this is criminal negligence or whether it’s a systemic regulatory breakdown or it’s a one-off. I say that only because this is the first time, really, given all the offshore drilling we have done, where we’ve had problems. In the past with offshore drilling as I understand it is not in the offshore drilling itself but the transport – connecting with the ship and having issues there … This is unprecedented.”

“The most finger I’m going to point at this time – the initial incident response gave all power and authority to the Environmental Protection Agency. I think that was a mistake. … From what I understand, what I know, the first federal failure was putting the EPA on something that should have been done by the Coast Guard. … There may be criminal negligence and if there is it needs to be prosecuted. Right now we have our worst environmental catastrophe in U.S. history and we need to get it fixed.”

Q: So what are your thoughts on offshore drilling:?

“I support offshore drilling with a big caveat: Is there something systemic here? We need to answer that question. I emphatically believe we shouldn’t stop offshore drilling based on this. You have to look at the history.

“I’m a big proponent of going away from buying foreign fossil fuel from folks who don’t like us. I think there’s clear national security issues and clear expatriation of wealth issues that I don’t like with that.”

Q: If elected, would you try to secure a third bridge for the Salem area, and where would you put it?

“It’s a real issue people are feeling. It’s like with the Columbia River Crossing – do you need it can you afford it and what will it look like from its done? From a federal perspective you have to demonstrate a federal need. We know that, as somebody who tries a little bit to wear green eyeshades looking at the budget, one value I see in federal spending is infrastructure so long as its intelligent infrastructure spending …

“When there’s a clear transportation need, you can argue there is a national interest in highways and bridges operating everywhere, then I think you can make the case why that should be nationally funded. As far as the details of where it would be ridiculous if I tried to answer that.”

Q What entitlements would you cut in order to tamp down federal spending?

“You don’t have to cut. You have to restrain the growth. You have to right-size the growth and make the growth intelligent rather than arbitrary. … One of the first things: In 2027 the age of Social Security goes from 65 to 67. We need to look at pushing that back a little bit. … I’m 44. People my age, most folks my age or younger than me, really don’t even think Social Security is going to be there. If you told someone my age that, instead of kicking in at 67 it’s going to be at 69 and a half, I think it’s absolutely reasonable to look at that.

“We also need to look at tying benefits into prices rather than wages. With the exception of this recession wages have grown faster than prices. But it’s unsustainable, at least more so than to look at increases of prices instead.”

Q: What are your thoughts on Arizona’s immigration law and the U.S. government’s efforts on the matter?

““Everything Arizona wrote into their new law is federal law as far as I know, and it’s not being enforced. If you’re a nurseryman and your job is to create these products, and your market is Home Depots or Costcos around the country, and at the end of the day that buyer, say it’s Costco, that buyer could care less about your work force. What they care about is the cost of that commodity product and the quality of that commodity product.

“If you’re a nurseryman with every desire to do the right thing, which means making sure the people working for you are working there legally, yet you know the guy down the street or in the next state may not be doing that, you’re in a really tough position. … That’s why enforcement is so important to that company willing to do the right thing.”