17-term incumbent Rep. Peter DeFazio fights to retain his seat against Republican Alek Skarlatos

DeFazio throws up his hands as he talks to reporters after a Democratic caucus meeting with about debt relief legislation in WashingtonThomson Reuters
  • Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio will face Alek Skarlatos to represent Oregon's 4th Congressional District in Congress.
  • The district is located in southwestern Oregon along the coastline. It is home to the University of Oregon and Oregon State University.
  • DeFazio, the chair of the powerful House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, is in his 17th term in office and has represented the district since 1987.

Seventeen-term incumbent Rep. Peter DeFazio squares off against Republican Alek Skarlatos in Oregon's 4th Congressional District.

The candidates

Defazio is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He later became a congressional aide and the chair of the Lane County board of commissioners. DeFazio was elected in 1986 to serve as the representative for Oregon's 4th Congressional District, a position he has held for about 34 years. He is a founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and is the current chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Skarlatos, DeFazio's Republican challenger, is an actor and veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard. In August 2015, Skarlatos and others were traveling to Paris from Amsterdam when they stopped a gunman from attacking a train. Since then, Skarlatos has been on "Dancing with the Stars" and appeared as himself in a Clint Eastwood movie depicting the train attack.Advertisement

Skarlatos' campaign platform is centered around reforming the Veteran's Health Administration, strengthening the U.S. borders, and assisting Oregon's lumber industries.

The district

Oregon's 4th Congressional District is located in the southwestern region of the state and alongside much of Oregon's Pacific coastline. The district is home to all of Coos, Benton, Douglas, Lane and Curry counties as well as most of linn and Josephine counties. The 4th District also includes the University of Oregon and Oregon State University, two of the three largest universities in the state.

For the 2016 presidential election, the district very narrowly voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over President Donald Trump over in a 46.1-46.0 percentage point split of the vote, according to Daily Kos. During the 2012 election, the district voted for President Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by seven percentage points.

The money race

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, DeFazio has raised $1.85 million for his campaign — about $550,000 more than Skarlatos with $1.3 million. DeFazio also has a sizeable cash on hand advantage over his opponent. DeFazio currently has $1.7 million left to spend as the November election approaches, or over three times as much as Skarlatos' $454,000.

What experts say

The race between DeFazio and Skarlatos is rated as "safe Democratic" by Inside Elections and "likely Democratic" by the Cook Political Report and Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.Expanded Coverage Module: insider-voter-guide