Republican Alek Skarlatos raised more money in campaign donations in April than Democratic incumbent Rep. Peter DeFazio, according to candidate campaign finance filings with the Federal Election Commission.
Skarlatos hopes that means his campaign for U.S. House District 4 is gaining momentum and could eventually catch up to DeFazio’s in fundraising.
“I think that it’s really just kind of a sign that people are hopefully getting fed up with him finally after all these years. Hopefully people are seeing an opportunity in our campaign to actually provide a voice to rural Oregonians,” Skarlatos said in an interview Tuesday.
DeFazio is a powerhouse fundraiser, and has overall raised more than three times as much money as Skarlatos this election. In 2019 and 2020 combined, DeFazio amassed a war chest of $1,653,414 to Skarlatos’s $490,580, as of the end of April.
But in recent months, Skarlatos has outpaced DeFazio. Since the beginning of the year, Skarlatos has raised $421,819 compared to $346,730 for DeFazio.
And in April fundraising, Skarlatos beat DeFazio by a 2 to 1 margin, collecting $131,791 to DeFazio’s $63,847.
All but $5,100 of Skarlatos’s campaign contributions have come from individual donors. Some of his individual donations have come through WinRed, a site that collects individual donations online. His primary PAC donor is the Republican Majority Fund, which gave him $5,000 this year.
By contrast, DeFazio has raised $691,093 — about 41.8% of his total donations — from individual contributions and the rest from PACs ranging from union organizations to travel businesses. DeFazio is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and has been in office for more than three decades.
Skarlatos said it’s natural that the incumbent would raise more PAC money, but he sees his apparent appeal with smaller donors as a good sign for the general election.
“We have a lot of great momentum. I feel like the campaign is just now finding its legs and I think if we can do this well during the coronavirus, I think we’ll do even better once it all passes and we can actually open up and do some real face-to-face campaigning,” Skarlatos said.
Skarlatos has received donations from around the country. DeFazio said that’s not a good thing.
“Out-of-state party elite are backing and funding Skarlatos — not Oregon voters or donors. It’s no mistake that 83.24% of Skarlatos’ campaign contributions come from outside of Oregon. While it’s clear that the National Republican Campaign Committee thinks they can manipulate this district, I believe that Oregon voters will see through these tactics and won’t be bought,” DeFazio said in a written statement responding to our questions about the fundraising totals.
DeFazio said the Republican establishment has “cleared the path for Skarlatos because he’s pledged fealty to Donald Trump and his worst policies.”
Among those, DeFazio said, are maintaining and extending tax cuts for billionaires and corporations, privatizing health care and calling for voter ID laws.
Skarlatos and DeFazio still have primary races to win this month if they want to face each other in the general election.
When it comes to fundraising at least, each is well ahead of his only remaining competitor.
Republican Nelson Ijih has reported no campaign contributions at all with the FEC, while Democrat Doyle Canning has raised $194,811.