Art Robinson is no longer running for Congress. The Cave Junction chemist dropped his bid for the seat held by U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield.

Instead, Robinson filed Tuesday to run for the state Senate seat currently held by Republican Senate leader Herman Baertschiger, Jr.

Baertschiger is not running for reelection.

Robinson said the change in plan is the best use of his supporters’ and family’s resources. The key thing in the Congressional race is for a Republican to win, he said, and one of his competitors may already be able to accomplish that.

The candidate most likely to reap the benefits of Robinson’s surprise announcement is Alek Skarlatos of Roseburg, who now has just one competitor left in the race for the Republican nomination.

“We’re pretty excited about it. This race has had a lot of good developments in it in the last 48 hours that was just the cherry on top,” Skarlatos said.

He also learned he hit a quarter million dollars in fundraising, and received an endorsement from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, he said.

“Just a lot of good things. We’re pretty happy,” he said.

Skarlatos is a former Army National Guardsman who became famous after he and two friends tackled a gunman who fired shots on a Paris-bound train. The event became the subject of the Clint Eastwood movie “The 15:17 to Paris,” in which Skarlatos starred.

Robinson said he will be in a better position to serve his fellow citizens in the Legislature.

Robinson said the state of Oregon is threatened with “very onerous actions” from the majority Democrats in the Legislature on cap and trade. The partisan fight over cap and trade led to a walkout by Republican legislators, and was followed after the session’s end by an executive order from the governor enacting many of the policies the Republicans had opposed.

“I’m not saying what the Legislature in Oregon should do about this issue. I believe that the Democrats’ position is too extreme and that they shouldn’t do the things that they are proposing, but the main thing is to make sure that these legislators have the experimental data, that their suppositions are based on and that isn’t in the mix now, and that’s something we can provide,” he said.

Robinson said the legislators’ decisions need to be based on data rather than on politics. In his view, that’s not what’s happening. He said as a scientist, he has something to offer.

“The idea is to interject into the political process there a different kind of mind that looks at experiment and data and science,” he said.

Robinson does not believe in man-made climate change. His views are in opposition to the prevailing view among climate scientists.

Robinson argues the number of scientists who agree doesn’t matter, only the data does.

However, for the numbers, he points to the Global Warming Petition Project, a petition Robinson started which has been signed by 31,000 people purporting to be scientists skeptical of climate change.

Critics have pointed out there’s no verification authenticating the signatures, and the petition itself just asks for signatories to have “formal training in the analysis of information in physical science” to include “primarily those with BS, MS, or PhD degrees in science, engineering or related disciplines.”

NASA reports the scientific consensus is that the earth is warming and that’s likely due to human activities. NASA reports that multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show 97% of actively publishing climate scientists agree with that conclusion.

Robinson, who homeschooled his own children and designed homeschool curriculum, also wants to focus on education in the Legislature, but said he would study the issues carefully before commenting on what he’d like to do.

Robinson said he plans to run for Congress again in the future.

This would have been Robinson’s sixth run at DeFazio’s seat. He won the Republican nomination five times but went on to lose each of the general elections.

With Robinson stepping aside, Skarlatos’ only competition in the Republican primary is Eugene computer scientist and entrepreneur Nelson Ijih. Ijih has not filed any information on fundraising activity.

Robinson said he is not making an endorsement. He never makes endorsements, he said, because he’s not sure whether it hurts or helps.

Skarlatos said with Robinson dropping out, he’s now beginning to pivot to running against DeFazio. He said he thinks President Donald Trump will win reelection, and that it will be a good year for Republicans in Oregon, too.

While he’s not running as a moderate, he is hopeful he can win Democrats in November. He said DeFazio has shifted too far to the left for a district closely divided between Democrats and Republicans, citing DeFazio’s support for a Green New Deal.

Skarlatos plans to focus on what he called “common sense issues that matter to most people,” citing timber policy, the economy, veteran healthcare and the Second Amendment.

“Southwestern Oregon has had a pretty tough time in the last even 30 years due to a stagnant timber economy. It’s the basis for pretty much all business in small towns across Southwestern Oregon, so that would be my main priority,” he said.

Robinson is not the first Republican to shift gears in this race. Jo Rae Perkins of Albany had originally filed for the seat but switched in February to a run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley. Perkins endorsed Skarlatos.

Two Democrats are challenging DeFazio in the primary — Doyle Canning and Cassidy Clausen, both of Eugene.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

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