Roseburg Republican Alek Skarlatos and Springfield Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio appear headed for a rematch in 2022 — with a twist.

The big question mark in the U.S. House District 4 election is redistricting. With the Legislature working out new boundaries for Congressional districts this year, it’s anybody’s guess what the district will look like next year.

It’s even possible that the two candidates could wind up drawn into different districts. In that case, DeFazio wouldn’t face Skarlatos at all in 2022.

The two candidates are a study in contrasts.

Skarlatos, a 28-year-old veteran with no government experience, gained fame for his role in thwarting a terrorist attempt on a Paris-bound train in 2015.

Skarlatos has authored a book, starred in a Clint Eastwood movie and was until recently employed by the Freedom Foundation, a right-wing think tank that primarily focuses on union busting — or educating workers on their right to leave unions, depending on your point of view.

“I believe in freedom of choice for people when it comes to joining unions, and I believe in local government and state’s rights at every turn, and that’s really all the Freedom Foundation did was educate people about their rights as workers and as union members,” Skarlatos said.

Skarlatos said he recently quit his job at the foundation to focus full time on the 2022 campaign.

DeFazio, a 74-year-old who has served in Congress a whopping 34 years, is the chairman of the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

He was was less interested in speculating on the upcoming election than in talking about the American Jobs Plan, a massive investment in rebuilding America’s crumbling Eisenhower-era infrastructure.

The plan includes investment in roads, water, rail, climate change resilience, electrifying the highways, rural broadband and job training.

“That would create an extra couple million jobs and so we want to get people who’ve been left behind, particularly in rural areas, we want to get them into those jobs,” he said.

In 2020, DeFazio beat Skarlatos by 52% to 46%. It was the hardest fought race of his career, though he still won by a comfortable margin.

But Skarlatos expressed optimism about his chances next year. He said he’s starting earlier, has a better team than last year and fundraising is strong.

Skarlatos also anticipates that he will be running in a more Republican district regardless of whether he faces DeFazio next year.

He thinks redistricting will either push DeFazio’s district into a more Republican area or the more Republican areas will be drawn into a different district.

“I think whatever they do we’re going to stand a much better chance than we did last time,” he said.

DeFazio said because the state will add a sixth district, his district will shrink by about 100,000 people.

“How it’s going to change will be up to the Legislature and then ultimately it’s going to all go to the courts. So we’re a long way from having any idea what it’s going to look like,” he said.

He said one advantage for him in 2022 is that former President Donald Trump is not on the ballot.

He also said funding isn’t everything. Skarlatos and the super PACs that supported him outspent him two to one in 2020 and still didn’t win, he said.

“I would say it doesn’t bode well in a non-Trump year in a similar district, but again we don’t know what the district will be,” he said.

Prior to Skarlatos’ run, state Rep. Art Robinson, R-Cave Junction, had unsuccessfully attempted five times to unseat DeFazio.

Skarlatos said he doesn’t plan to follow Robinson’s example and run multiple times if he doesn’t win this time around.

DeFazio said he doesn’t know how many terms he will continue to seek reelection.

“I always decide one term at a time,” he said.

According to Skarlatos, DeFazio has “run this district into the ground,” focusing too much on national priorities and looking inward at his own district too little.

“If that’s something you want, then keep voting for him, but I think to be honest people out here in the rural parts of the district have not fared so well under DeFazio,” he said.

Skarlatos said timber issues remain his top priority, followed by lowering the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs and reducing government spending and the national debt.

DeFazio said while he is chairperson of one of the most powerful committees in the House, Skarlatos would not be chairing any committees if he were elected.

In addition to his work on the transportation plan, DeFazio said he has supported COVID-19 rescue funds that Skarlatos opposed.

The most recent plan he supported provided aid to individuals and small businesses as well as a child benefit he said will cut child poverty in half.

“Every single Republican voted against it and Alek is in the same camp,” he said.

DeFazio supported the Affordable Care Act, which he said has brought lower drug prices for 150,000 seniors in his district.

Another key difference between the two candidates is their views on the Jan. 6 events at the U.S. Capitol, in which protesters broke into the building and some committed crimes including assaulting police and vandalism.

Skarlatos, in an interview with Newsmax about a week after the event, said his primary concern was that the media would demonize Trump supporters.

He told The News-Review this week he thinks some unfortunate things happened, but that every major person who did something bad that day has already been arrested and the FBI is “still going after grandmothers who were simply in attendance.”

He said many people simply walked in and didn’t know the doors had been forced and those people shouldn’t be charged with trespassing.

“I think the FBI probably has bigger things to worry about nowadays,” he said.

Asked who he thought won the 2020 election, Skarlatos said, “I have no comment.”

DeFazio, on the other hand, lived through the events of Jan. 6 and spent the duration of the riot locked down in his office with bear spray at hand.

He said 140 police officers were injured that day, one lost his vision and one died of concussion wounds.

DeFazio said while some who broke into the Capitol were simply protesting, others were involved in a planned attempt to overthrow the election of President Joe Biden by stealing the antique wooden boxes holding the election certification letters from the states.

He said there are two camps of Republicans in Congress right now, those who falsely believe the election was stolen from Trump and those who know it wasn’t but claim otherwise because they fear losing Trump’s support.

Skarlatos has that support too, he said.

“So either Alek is among those who have bought into the lies or he is one of those who is promoting the lie,” DeFazio said.

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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(12) comments

Marine Vet

He's LITTLE KREMLIN CRUZ. Is Ted Cruz Gonna Give him Over 1 Million Dollars this time to Run.? How is it a HOPELESSLY UNELECTABLE Person just Keeps Running.? Running for Office & Having Others " donate " to his Repeated attempts to win not just Plain & Simple GRIFTING.? Havent heard a Single Word about just What Good Old White Nationalist Alex here doe's for a Real Job.? Heard maybe sells property.?

NJ

“Another key difference between the two candidates is their views on the Jan. 6 events at the U.S. Capitol, in which protesters broke into the building and some committed crimes including assaulting police and vandalism.”

Let's qualify the written word here with what happened on January 6th. The “building” was our Nation's Capitol, the seat of our Federal Government. The halls and rooms where all political parties legislate the laws of our land. The “some” were a number of Alt-Right Domestic Terrorist Groups, who killed 4 police officers, not exactly the Party of Law and Order.

The Proud Boys, The Oath Keepers, The Groyper Army, The Rise Above Movement, Anticom and the Last Sons of Liberty had all made plans, some with the help of insiders, to perform an attack on Congress with the mind set to hang the Vice President so the election would not be certified. They did so at the direction of their Commander. And when their media chose to lie and promote that the insurrection was actually not alt-right terrorists but rather the non-organized Antifa, members of these groups were quick to dismiss the lie. They were proud to be recognized for their coup attempt on our Democracy.

These “some”, noting specifically The Proud Boys, were told on national TV by Trump to “Stand Down and Stand By” during the only 2020 election debate debacle. The Proud Boys were thrilled to be mentioned and felt directed by their Commander. So much so they began to spread “Stand Down and Stand By” as their new logo on social media. After the Insurrection they celebrated with satisfaction in making Congress members cower in fear evidenced by photos, again, on their social media.

When Skarlatos, about a week after the event, said his primary concern was that the media would demonize Trump supporters, he was wrong in his assertion. It would be more accurate to say that Trump supporters demonized themselves first in their decision to believe the lie that a fair election had not occurred and second by their actions in attacking those performing the job they were elected to perform.

A question comes up about why would Republicans vote for Biden and then vote for Republican candidates down their ballots. It's not a hard answer. Republican Biden voters did not want to go through another 4 years of Trump's lies and criminality, his abuse of power, his lack of knowledge of our Constitution of Law, and his incitement of white supremacy. His calls to violence weren't about his support of those who believed him, they weren't about making the country better or the people more able to prosper and thrive. It was and will always be because Trump wants only what benefits Trump. He doesn't give any thought to any thing or anyone else.

For Republican candidates to believe a criminal who lies shows an immature knowledge and lack of experience to commit to the laws of our Constitution and to our Democracy. And for a candidate to come from military service, who had taken an oath to defend our country and all its freedoms, but refuses to believe a terrorist coup was attempted on the very Democracy he committed to fight for during his time of service shows exactly how Skarlatos is not ready to take another oath to serve the people he would represent.

melrosereader

And do not forget that even at this late date Skarlatos will not say that Biden won the election. "No comment" he said.

Why won't he acknowledge that Biden won? Does he believe Biden did not win? I doubt it. Rather, I would bet a dollar that Skarlatos believes Biden won and that his refusal to say so is pure political calculation because he is afraid that such an admission would alienate the MAGA crowd. Integrity? Not. Spine? Are you kidding me? Narcissist who thinks he's too good to actually work for a living? Probably.

garyd

[thumbup]

Marine Vet

Key difference is Alex is a WHITE NATIONALIST & Supported by Ted "Kremlin" Cruz.

Momos

Asked who he thought won the 2020 election, Skarlatos said, “I have no comment.”

Better come up with one. Try telling the truth, that works best for most people.

Mike

As a past supporter of Alek Skarlatos, I marvel at his transformation into a candidate who has now lost my vote. If he can't act independently from his party to implement his own conservative (as opposed to conspiracy) views and can't admit the past election was legitimate, he doesn't deserve my support no matter how heroic his past actions were.

Marine Vet

Alex is a WHITE NATIONALIST & Supported by Ted "Kremlin" Cruz.

mworden

In response to the last sentence of the article, in my opinion, Alek first bought into the lies and then he has put himself into positions that enable him to promote the lies, which he probably believes.

What he did on the Paris train took fortitude and I congratulate him for that. That was exactly what the military trained him to do and he followed his training. He followed it with a stint on Dancing with the Stars.

Unfortunately, he has not shown himself to have intellectual skills equal to his forward charge skills and his fancy footwork. We need people in congress who know how to think, analyze, problem-solve and negotiate.

I strongly encourage Alek and the local GOP to find some lower level jobs for him so that he can develop such skills. It's a sign of immaturity and grandiosity to want to start near the top without earning your way there first.

melrosereader

mworden, the local GOP did find a low level job for him, a stint in the union-busting Freedom Foundation. Probably because he couldn't find a job anywhere else. Or because he is too lazy to actually work for a living.

mworden

If he wants to be a member of congress in order to serve Oregon then, imo, he needs another 10 years of various jobs where he can learn how to do that. He's a handsome young man who showed fortitude in a dicey situation, but that's not enough to be a national leader. And you and I are probably in total agreement[wink]

Marine Vet

Alex is a WHITE NATIONALIST & Supported by Ted "Kremlin" Cruz.

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