In the regularly blue state of Oregon, voters in a purple district near Portland are turning away from the long-term Democratic current rep. Peter DeFazio in favor of a young Republican challenger.
Army veteran Alek Skarlatos, 27, gained international fame for stopping an extremist attack aboard a Paris-bound train in 2015. He is also one of the House Republicans’ best recruits this year, outraising DeFazio by $ 1.2 million and spending him with over $ 900,000 in most recent quarter.
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“I can not publish him. We can not even match him. He collected more money in a quarter than I have ever raised a year in my life,”
DeFazio, a populist progressive, is a key player for his party and would be a key figure in infrastructure if Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wins the White House. He has also been instrumental in congressional discussions on the coronavirus stimulation package as a strong advocate for aviation assistance.
While Politico reported on Friday that the 73-year-old Democrat is expected to retain his seat and DeFazio retains the benefit of a whopping $ 2.12 million in cash, leadership has reportedly become nervous about the thin margin.
DeFazio has a history of winning, but Skarlatos marks the first serious opponent the House Transportation chair has faced in years.
DeFazio’s supporters say he has taken the challenge seriously and that the Democratic congressional campaign committee has taken note of the race. But Politico noted that they also recognize that there are additional unforeseen variables this election cycle.
Destructive forest fires, the absence of college students due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and chaotic protests that turned violent in nearby Portland will all play a role in shaping the race.
In addition, Oregon Fourth District came just a fraction of a percentage point from supporting President Trump four years ago.
Predictors have recently shifted the race from likely to lean Democrat, putting Skarlatos within striking distance.
As a famous GOP candidate vying for “Dancing with the Stars,” the Skarlatos have tried to put DeFazio on the defensive. Despite the Democrat’s independent image – breaking with Democrats on several issues – Skarlatos has hit the legislature’s support for the Green New Deal.
The former National Guardsman has also accused DeFazio of wanting to ward off police.
“I think people in Oregon look it up and close and personal, unlike many people in the country,” Mike Leavitt, the lead consultant for the Skarlatos campaign, told reporters in an interview on the National Police Reform Conversation . “I think it’s a problem that resonates with them.”
Leavitt later said he believed support for his candidate came from interest in a “new face” and “new ideas.”
In response, Democrats have accused Scarlatos of loyally supporting President Trump without question and hope to abolish health protection.
The congressional race is set to be the most expensive in Oregon history, with Republicans spending $ 1.5 million on ads and Democrats securing $ 2.65 million.
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DeFazio is not the only Democratic operator facing tough prospects for re-election this year.
House Surveillance Chair Carolyn Maloney, DN.Y., was part of a race that took weeks to count and certify, and 6-year-old incumbent Foreign Secretary Eliot Engel, DN.Y., was eventually defeated by the Liberal challenger Jamaal Bowman.