News & Politics

Peter DeFazio—High-Ranking, Swing District Democrat—to Retire in 2022

Don Ryan

Peter DeFazio, the Democrat chairman of the powerful House Transportation Committee, will not seek reelection in next year’s midterms — and his Oregon seat could be ripe for a Republican takeover.

DeFazio announced on Wednesday, “I feel good about the legacy I’ve left,” but after 35 years on Capitol Hill, not so good that he’ll stick around for what would be a tough reelection fight.

DeFazio kept his job for so long by bringing home more pork than a prepper on his way back from Sam’s Club, but whoever the Democrats nominate to replace him won’t enjoy DeFazio’s track record.

Oregon’s Fourth Congressional District is rated D+4 by Cook Political, and a “Likely Democratic” hold.

DeFazio is the 19th Democrat to retire rather than run again in 2022.

In 2020, DeFazio defeated 29-year-old Republican combat veteran Alek Skarlatos, who gained fame for helping stop a terrorist aboard a Paris-bound train. He even played himself (along with his fellow train heroes) in Clint Eastwood’s 2018 movie version of events, The 15:17 to Paris.

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PJ’s own Jeff Reynolds interviewed Skarlatos during his 2020 election run. He said then of DeFazio, “DeFazio is to the far left of the district. He only works in Eugene, nowhere else in the district.”

Eugene (along with little brother Corvallis) is the “progressive” base of an otherwise conservative area.

In his very first congressional race, Skarlatos won more votes than any other Republican ever in the Fourth District, and 2020 was a very strong year for Democrats. Disillusionment with Presidentish Joe Biden, combined with a very energized GOP base, might just be enough to make Skarlatos the first Republican to win there since 1972.

Still, it won’t be easy. Redistricting has made the Fourth less competitive than it was last time around when Cook rated it “Even.”