MEDFORD, Ore. – For the first time in years, a longtime congressman may be facing a real challenge in the general election. Democrat Peter DeFazio has represented Oregon’s 4th District for more than three decades. This fall he’s facing a political newcomer, Roseburg man Alek Skarlatos. The veteran is best known for thwarting a terrorist attack in France. Both candidates said this will be a close race.
“I know this district, I’ve worked hard, people aren’t always going to agree with me, but they know where I stand unlike a lot of members of Congress,” said Rep. DeFazio.
Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio represented Oregon’s 4th District for 33-years. The former member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves is the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“I think that political experience might be negative,” said Skarlatos.
His opponent, Roseburg man Alek Skarlatos, says the district needs a change.
“Peter DeFazio has had 33-years to affect positive change in his district and hasn’t. We’re now the poorest Congressional district in the state,” said Skarlatos.
The former National Guard soldier has no political experience but says that makes him more in touch with the district. However, both men say forest management is key to Oregon’s 4th District.
“I’ve worked on issues to reduce wildfire risk. I’ve worked with Greg Walden on that years ago, we passed it. The Obama Administration didn’t fund it automatically nor did this [Trump] Administration,” said Rep. DeFazio.
“It’s something that is essential for the district due to the O&C laws. There’s no way we can get around that without repealing O&C completely,” said Skarlatos.
The two men also have different coronavirus views. Defazio is pushing for Republicans to support Democrats’ new stimulus package to help struggling Americans.
“It’s critical we get this money out to the American people and soon. This is extending federal unemployment this is extending to people who’ve lost it. This is extending more help to small businesses,” said Rep. DeFazio.
Skarlatos says it should be handled at a more local level.
“There’s parts of Oregon and the country that have almost no infections and no deaths. Those places I believe should open up they’re doing more longterm damage to the economy than the coronavirus ever could,” said Skarlatos.
The candidates have not held any debates. There might be a debate closer to election day, but nothing has been made official.