DeFazio faces same-party challenger for Congressional seat


Doyle Canning to face incumbent in May 19 primary

May 6, 2020 — U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio was first elected to represent Oregon’s 4th Congressional District in 1986. Since that time, he has become a fixture in the House of Representatives, where he was elected by his peers to chairmanship of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee in 2018. 

Over the years, DeFazio has faced few serious challenges to his re-election from within his own party. This election cycle is markedly different, with DeFazio facing a challenge in the May 19 primary from Doyle Canning, a graduate of the University of Oregon School of Law, community organizer and social activist.

Canning openly accuses DeFazio of having become involved in the bureaucracy and beholden to special interest groups. Further, Doyle said she feels there are unexplored opportunities to better support all Oregon families. 

“Our Congressman has been taking money from the health insurance lobbyists, Amazon, weapons makers, big Pharma and fossil fuels for years,” Canning stated. “I have spent 20 years taking on big polluters, Wall Street Banks and big corporations, waging uphill battles and winning. I know how to build strong connections with the people I serve, assemble coalitions, use the leverage of public pressure …” 

Canning added that foreign fossil fuel company projects like the Jordan Cove Pipeline endanger local communities and habitat while “… timber companies replace workers with machines and make profit for their Wall Street backers while leaving our landscapes scarred, sucking our water dry, and leaving us with added wildfire risk.”

Canning’s progressive, environmentally oriented platform, while similar in some respects to DeFazio’s, pushes towards a more comprehensive approach to alternate energy power generation and a more stringent policy towards the use of public lands.

“Congress has the power to shut down the Jordan Cove Project, to fund our schools and make education for our young people debt-free, to invest in a climate plan where out-of-work loggers can get guaranteed, good paying jobs in regenerative forestry,” Canning said. “Our coast can become a hub for developing offshore wind energy and put people to work in manufacturing. 

“Congress has the power to invest in the solutions we need now; what they lack is political will. That is why I am running for Congress.”

Canning said she has also seen the destruction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on the coast, where the local economy relies on restaurants, hotels and the natural attractions that bring visitors. 

“If these must be shut down to preserve the public health, then the government must provide people with the means to survive until the storm has passed. Otherwise, we are left with the terrible choice to risk infection or risk bankruptcy,” said Canning.

Canning supports Gov. Kate Brown’s “Stay Home, Stay Alive” executive order, which restricts social gatherings and business operations. However, Canning wants to see more done to support lower income earners and families that are currently unemployed.

“Governor Brown was very wise to follow the lead of Governor Inslee of Washington and take early action to stop the spread of COVID-19. As a result of the sacrifices and solidarity of Oregonians staying home, many lives have been saved,” said Canning. “However, livelihoods have already been destroyed … We’ve just watched as Congress has given multi-trillion-dollar bailouts using our tax dollars to millionaires and big corporations, while small businesses and working families get red-tape and crumbs.”

Canning said she is hoping to appeal to the more progressive of DeFazio’s supporters. She has tailored her message to highlight her extensive grassroots organizing experiences and what many would characterize as her “green” agenda. 

“I am the first viable challenger in 33 years, and the first woman ever to run in the Democratic primary for Congress here in our district,” Canning said. “We can’t go back to business as usual, that is why I’m running.”

In addition to the two Democrat Party candidates, Nelson Ijih and Alek Skarlatos are running for the Republican Party candidacy.

For more information regarding the May 19 Special Election, go to sos.oregon.gov/voting/Pages/current-election.aspx.

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