Democratic incumbent Peter DeFazio defeated Republican challenger Alek Skarlatos in the race for U.S. House District 4.
Skarlatos received 46% of the vote to DeFazio’s 52% as of results late Tuesday evening.
DeFazio, speaking via Facebook Live at 10 p.m. Tuesday, thanked the volunteers who helped him win.
“Oregonians believe in me and believe in the future. So this is a reflection of who we are, who we can be and how we can all do better together,” he said. “I’m looking forward so much to going back to Washington, D.C. again to represent you all.”
He said he hoped for passage of a 21st Century transportation and infrastructure bill he said would deal with climate change and provide millions of good paying jobs for Americans in every sector of the economy.
He said he also hopes for a government that will defeat COVID-19 and provide relief to Americans who are suffering economically.
Skarlatos could not be reached by phone for comment Tuesday. Shortly before midnight, he issued a written statement congratulating DeFazio. Skarlatos also thanked supporters and his campaign team.
“Together we created the most exciting campaign this district has ever seen, and while it is incredibly heart breaking to see the results tonight, I am so proud of the work that my team has done, and I am very thankful for the time and sacrifice they have given over the past 18 months. This has been the most rewarding experience of my life, and I am incredibly humbled for having the opportunity to run for office and bring attention to the needs of the citizens of this district,” he said.
It was a hard-fought campaign in a purple district where DeFazio has held his seat for 33 years. DeFazio had handily defeated Cave Junction chemist Art Robinson five times in a row for the seat.
But Skarlatos, propelled by fame following his role in blocking a would-be terrorist on a Paris-bound train in 2015, received national attention from high profile Republicans and contributions from ordinary Republicans around the country.
In 2020, Skarlatos began pulling ahead of DeFazio in quarterly fundraising. By October, Skarlatos had pulled ahead of DeFazio in overall fundraising for the entire campaign.
DeFazio’s long experience has put him in the powerful role of chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which has led to benefits for his district ranging from port dredging to bridge repair.
DeFazio argued that Skarlatos would have little impact for his district as a new member of the Repubican Party, which is expected to remain in the minority in the House. He also pointed to Skarlatos’ lack of government experience. Skarlatos made an unsuccessful run for Douglas County commissioner in 2018, but has not held any political office.
Not surprisingly, Douglas County voters went for Skarlatos this year, just as they’d voted for Robinson in previous elections. He won the county by a margin of 65% to 33%.