• Peter Osborne

Meet the Freshmen: Cliff Bentz (OR-02)


This is the first in a series of articles introducing you to the Freshmen Class members of the Republican Main Street Partnership. First up is Rep. Cliff Bentz , 69, of Oregon.

  • District/Area Served: Oregon’s Second Congressional District. It is a largely rural district that covers about two-thirds of eastern Oregon and is one of the largest congressional districts in the country. It is said that the district is larger than any state east of the Mississippi River.

  • Background: Third-generation Oregonian, trained attorney, raised on his family’s cattle ranch in Harney County, Oregon.

  • Family: Married to Dr. Lindsay Norman, a veterinarian, with two children.

  • Legislative Priority: As Ranking Member on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife, Rep. Bentz is focused on advocating for American communities, businesses, utility providers, agriculture, and all those who rely on water resources. He advocates for taking a responsible approach to conservation that promotes a balanced use of natural resources and meets the needs of all stakeholders, including wildlife and the environment.

  • Political Experience: Served in the Oregon Senate from 2018-2020 and represented District 60 in the Oregon House of Representatives from 2008-2018. He replaced Rep. Greg Walden, who supported his candidacy.

  • What Others Say: “Cliff proved in Salem (Oregon) how important it is to work with people regardless of party. He’s one of those people who is focused on getting results, focused on solving problems.” (Former Rep. Greg Walden). “Congressman Bentz brings a wide array of personal experiences and expertise as a water rights attorney to the table, and I know this will equip him to be a strong and thoughtful voice on water-related issues.” (Congressman Bruce Westerman, Ranking Member on the House Natural Resources Committee). “Through his many years in the Oregon Legislature, Congressman Bentz knows first-hand the importance of bridging the urban-rural divide and supporting common-sense solutions regardless of party. His thoughtful and deliberative approach to complex policy is needed now more than ever and we are grateful to have him in Congress working on Oregon’s behalf.” (April Snell, executive director of the Oregon Water Resources Congress)

  • Media Comment: “Bentz is a true product of the community…His expertise in environmental law and water rights as well as his years in the State Legislature wrestling over energy, transportation, and economic policy reflect his ability to drill into arcane details and develop workable solutions.” (The Oregonian Endorsement, 9/27/20).

  • What is a piece of wisdom that nobody shared with you when you first arrived in Congress that would have made a big difference? It would have been nice to know in advance about the potential pitfalls involved with talking to members of the press for the first time.

  • What does success in 2021 look like for you? Finding a way to truly help my constituents.

  • What do you think is the best path to breaking gridlock in Congress? Identity those areas that are least subject to political shrillness, and then find someone in the majority willing to work with you.

  • What’s the question you wish more people would ask themselves? What good is passing a bill if only to see it reversed a few years later when the political winds change?

  • At what point in your life did you realize you had the power of change or the power to do something meaningful? At age 11, when I saw that the publication of a school newspaper could change opinion.

  • How do you want to be remembered? As someone who saw that good could be done by working with others and by better understanding the facts.

  • What’s the best piece of advice you ever received (and who gave it to you)? My dad told me, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”

  • Interesting fact that’s not on your resume? My brother-in-law is the recording engineer for the Grateful Dead.

  • What advice would you give yourself coming out of college? Take more time off.

  • What is a book that you regularly give as a gift or recommend to others? Too many to count, but most recently “Six Minutes in May” (by Nicholas Shakespeare) and “Let There Be Water” (Seth Siegel)

  • Who or what is inspiring you right now? Those in my freshman class who are here without the benefit of being retired or independently wealthy.

  • What’s the best lesson you learned from your parents? Work harder than anyone else.

  • What’s your go-to song on a jukebox or for karaoke? Certainly not karaoke…but one of my favorite songs is “Hey Jude,” and another one of my favorite songs is “She Talks To Angels” by the Black Crowes.

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The Main Street Partnership encompasses a broad alliance of Republicans, including more than 60 sitting members in Congress. We are dedicated to enacting common-sense legislation on such kitchen-table issues as healthcare, family issues, workforce development, the environment (including clean water) and transportation/infrastructureOur members run and win in the most highly contested swing districts in the country.

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