Election 2020

Oregon Movie Star and Terrorist-Stopping Hero Snags GOP Nomination for Congress

FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2015, file photo, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, awards Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos with the Soldier's Medal during a ceremony at the Pentagon. Skarlatos, one of three Americans hailed as heroes for stopping a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train in August, would have been at the Oregon college where a gunman killed nine people if Skarlatos had not been in Los Angeles to rehearse for ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

In the primary election this Tuesday in Oregon, a noteworthy candidate snagged the GOP nomination for Congress. Alek Skarlatos won the most votes in the history of the Republican primary election in the Fourth District, running away with the nomination and setting himself up as a real threat to ultra-liberal Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who has held the seat for about a century (give or take).

Skarlatos shot to unexpected fame in August 2015 while on the Thalys train from Brussels to Paris. He and two of his buddies, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler, stopped a Moroccan terrorist who tried to take out as many travelers as possible with an AK 47, pistol, box cutter, and a jar of gasoline.

The details of how they suppressed the terrorist and the lives they saved garnered them the Knights of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest civilian honor. Clint Eastwood later decided to cast Skarlatos, Stone, and Sadler as themselves in the movie retelling of their story, The 15:17 to Paris.

It may take a movie star/veteran/terrorist hunter to take out DeFazio, who has held the seat for 17 terms. Prior to that, he worked as an aide to the previous representative, and has never held a private sector job. The liberal from Eugene via Massachusetts co-sponsored Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. President Obama considered him as a nominee for Secretary of Transportation, before settling on Ray LaHood.

This guy is the ultimate DC barnacle.

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The Fourth District covers a large swath of Oregon’s Southwest coast and mountain ranges. Despite containing the two large college towns of Eugene and Corvallis, the Cook Partisan Voting Index rates this district as even. Donald Trump performed better in this district in 2016 than anywhere else in Oregon, coming within 0.1% of Hillary Clinton in the popular vote.

Given the makeup of the district, it seems incredible that DeFazio has rarely faced a credible electoral challenge.

Indeed, a Republican hasn’t represented the Fourth District in 45 years. So what makes Skarlatos think he can succeed where so many have failed before?

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In an interview with PJ Media, he laid out his strategy. “I was thankful to get the most votes in history in this primary,” Skarlatos said. “Winning the primary with that many votes was a good sign. It gives us a lot of momentum going into the general election.”

The strategy seems simple. “It will be a combination of policy and name recognition,” said Skarlatos. “The Fourth District is in dire need of a candidate that can inspire the [Republican] base and attract moderates across the district.”

Skarlatos blasted DeFazio for not properly representing the district. “He co-sponsored the Green New Deal and co-founded the House Progressive Congress with Bernie Sanders,” he said. “DeFazio is to the far left of the district. He only works in Eugene, nowhere else in the district.”

Supporting President Trump will help his cause, according to Skarlatos. “President Trump plays well in the Fourth District,” he said. “It was Trump’s closest district in 2016, and we think he’ll win the district outright this year. Lots of Trump voters went for DeFazio in 2016, and we can win them back. We can also win the middle on common-sense policies that serve all the voters in the district.”

He also sees a larger strategy in his race that can revitalize prospects for Republicans across Oregon. “We’re hoping to revitalize the Republican party structure,” said Skarlatos, “and the Trump campaign will definitely help with that as well.”

The video gives a good overview:

Notice in the video Skarlatos talks about forest management and standing with the traditions of the timber industry in Southwest Oregon. That is a particular failing of DeFazio’s, whose AOC / Green New Deal policies have directly hurt his own constituents.

DeFazio’s legacy amounts to out of control wildfires, loss of high paying timber industry jobs, and extreme environmental regulations that hamper every sort of industry. One could be forgiven for thinking he represents Washington D.C. and the EPA more than he represents Southwest Oregon.

Indeed, Skarlatos makes that point on his website:

As I traveled the district when I returned home from my deployment, I had the privilege to meet people from all walks of life. I began to see how opportunity to make a sustainable middle-class life has dwindled here due to policies from DC imposing regulatory and tax burdens that have driven out the timber industry. Wages are flat and the cost of living keeps increasing every day. I’m running for Congress because it’s time we have someone who will stand with Southern Oregon. The loggers, veterans, moms, dads, and families trying to make ends meet. It’s time we have a congressman who will serve you, not the extremists in DC.

Skarlatos took a bit of a victory lap at the end of the first-quarter fundraising period, noting that his campaign outraised DeFazio for the period.

Fundraising often represents a better pulse of the electorate than polling. If he has already generated that much of a buzz, it could signal that DeFazio has finally met his match.

Here’s hoping Alek Skarlatos can finally scrape that D.C. barnacle off for good.

Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available now at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff.

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