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Skarlatos bears down for ballot box battle against incumbent Rep. DeFazio

Republican congressional candidate Alek Skarlatos believes the battle against 33-year incumbent Peter DeFazio for Oregon's fourth congressional district will be a competitive one.

Posted: Sep 4, 2020 6:23 PM
Updated: Nov 2, 2020 12:16 PM

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- Republican congressional candidate Alek Skarlatos believes the battle against 33-year incumbent Peter DeFazio for Oregon's fourth congressional district will be a competitive one.

Skarlatos became a public figure in 2015 after stopping a gunman on a Paris-bound train along with his two friends. 

The 27-year-old former National Guardsman said his political ambitions in the 2020 election began with frustration over regulation surrounding Oregon's timber industry. 

"I enjoy the outdoors. That's why I got involved in politics to begin with. I was really unhappy with the forestry policy," he said.

RELATED: SKARLATOS TO FACE DEFAZIO FOR US REPRESENTATIVE SEAT

Skarlatos said his major policy points include fixing forest mismanagement and promoting salvage logging, supporting the second amendment and veterans rights as well as securing the U.S. border.

"I do agree with a lot of the policies Donald Trump has put in place because I believe they are good for the country," he said. "I don't agree with them because I am necessarily a huge fan of Donald Trump and the things he says, but I do think he's moved this country in the right direction overall."

Though DeFazio has typically won his seat by a comfortable margin, Skarlatos believes that moderates have been alienated by riots in Portland and the rhetoric surrounding police defunding, which he said DeFazio took too long to decry. 

"The reason we attack DeFazio is because I don't think he's done a good job, and if I did, I wouldn't be running for office," he said.

He believes that voters who feel disenfranchised by progressive politics will vote for Republicans in November, including in the fourth congressional district.

"I think it's absolutely competitive. Peter DeFazio used to be a moderate Democrat, but unfortunately, he's not anymore. And that's why he used to win those elections by such a wide margin."

MORE: SKARLATOS NARROWLY LOSES IN DOUGLAS COUNTY COMMISSIONER RACE

Oregon State University associate professor of political science Christopher Stout said that this election will be more competitive than normal. Skarlatos' name recognition may have prompted increased donation levels, but 73-year-old DeFazio will be hard to beat.

"It's a district where Hillary Clinton barely won in 2016, so in this way, Skarlatos is running in a district where he at least has a chance, but going against an incumbent is an uphill battle," said Stout.

According to the campaign finance data, as of June 20, Skarlatos had fundraised $1.3 million for his campaign, 90% of which he said came from small-dollar voters. By the same date, DeFazio had raised $1.7 million.

In a statement, DeFazio's campaign said: "Alek Skarlatos’ statements are nothing more than scripted talking points from the Washington, D.C., Republican insiders who are managing his campaign. They’re attempting to distract the voters of Oregon’s Fourth Congressional District from his extreme agenda."

According to Lane County Elections, eligible Oregonians have until Oct. 13 to register to vote. For more information about how to register to vote, click here.

The full statement from DeFazio's campaign is below: 

Alek Skarlatos’ statements are nothing more than scripted talking points from the Washington, D.C., Republican insiders who are managing his campaign. They’re attempting to distract the voters of Oregon’s Fourth Congressional District from his extreme agenda.

This election is a matter of life and death and Skarlatos’ positions are bad for Oregonians’ health. Skarlatos supports repealing the Affordable Care Act–– even during a pandemic–– which would result in more than 310,000 Oregonians in the Fourth Congressional District and 130 million Americans losing their healthcare. He believes wealthy insurance companies should call the shots and raise premiums on Oregon families. He thinks the federal government should not have any role in providing healthcare--that means he’s opposed to Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans health care through the VA. Donald Trump has so badly botched the response to the COVID-19 crisis that more than 180,000 Americans have died and more than 6 million Americans have been infected. Yet Skarlatos thinks Trump is doing a fine job.

Congressman Peter DeFazio is as Independent as Oregon. He has put politics aside to bring billions of dollars to our economy, creating jobs in airport, road, and port projects across the state. He’s taken on Wall Street, big drug companies, and special interests— to stand up for working people and expand affordable healthcare. DeFazio has always fought to tip the scales back in favor of hard-working Oregonians.

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