NEWPORT — A Republican primary candidate for Oregon’s fifth congressional district, Joey Nations, stopped in Newport on Saturday morning for a town hall event in which he spoke about his platform and opened himself up for questions from the crowd. With his wife and two children in attendance, the audience was made up of 15 people — which he commented was more than he had seen at other candidates’ town halls, so he was happy enough with that.
The 31-year-old Salem man running for Congress came in second behind Mark Callahan for the Republican candidacy in 2018, with 20.8 percent of the vote. But he says he’s had his eyes on 2020 since he saw Trump run in 2016.
He explained his background working for a lobbying firm in Utah for years, before making a life and career change by coming to Oregon. He currently works for the State of Oregon as an operations analyst.
As for policy and platform, Nations described himself as a “small government, constitutional type guy.” On the topic of immigration, which he called the most important issue currently facing the country, Nations is for building the wall and believes that a decade-long immigration freeze could be key to reforming the immigration system.
“We need a system that benefits America,” said Nations, “and so until we get control of it, we need a freeze.”
Another key topic for the would-be congressman: the Second Amendment. He advocated for “constitutional carry,” or permitless carry. His other main point on the subject, he made as he stood a few feet from a cardboard cut-out of President Donald Trump, whom he referenced positively throughout his speech.
“The Second Amendment is near and dear to my heart,” said Nations. “I carry everywhere I go … I’m a very constitutional Second Amendment guy, so I don’t agree with banning suppressors, I don’t agree with banning bump stocks — I love President Tump, I disagree with him on those two things.”
Though the primary election is still over 10 months away, Nations took very little time to speak about his Republican opponent and not until an audience member asked him about the difference between himself and Angela Roman — a small business owner running on the issues of immigration, second amendment rights and term limits for congressmen.
“Her job background and mine would be the first thing that I would compare,” said Nations. “I’ve been at the federal level, I’ve been in D.C., I know how this stuff works. I think she worked at the state capitol for a few months, here in Oregon.”
As for his comments about the incumbent, the Schrader campaign answered the News-Times request for comment by stating that the election isn’t the congressman’s focus at the moment.
“Right now, it too is early in the season for campaigning,” said Campaign Manager Shane O’Brien. “Congressman Schrader is focused on his work in Congress including bringing down the high cost of healthcare for all Oregonians.”
Nations, who started campaigning four months prior to this event, told the News-Times that he was getting started early because Schrader is a well-established incumbent “with way too much money behind him.”
“I know it’s going to be a very brutal fight later,” said Nations, “and so I’m starting now, letting folks know now that we’re fighting for Oregon and I’m willing to fight him.”