Hero soldier turned congressional candidate: Voters ‘sick’ of economic woes, rising crime
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A former U.S. soldier, who helped thwart a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train in 2015 and is now running for Congress in Oregon, says voters are “sick” of the economic woes and rising crime plaguing the state and country.
In an interview with Fox News Digital, Alek Skarlatos, the Republican nominee in Oregon’s 4th Congressional District, laid out how his military experience had prepared him to represent Oregonians across all political spectrums, especially those tired of the decades-long representation and rule by Democrats in the state. Additionally, he argued he was the better choice over his Democratic opponent to take the country off the unsustainable path it has been on.
“I think people have had enough of this one party leadership that’s obviously taken us down the wrong path,” Skarlatos said when asked about his chances in the seat slightly favored by Democrats in the November midterm elections.
“I’m appealing to everyone in the district, [including] Democrats who’ve had enough of the one party rule in this state for 40 years. Things have not improved under that 40 year tenure of the Democrat Party running the state,” he later added. “I’m appealing to unaffiliated voters, which I think are going to swing our way in this election regardless. And hopefully the Republicans show up to vote for me as well.”
Skarlatos detailed how his experience as a soldier, during which he and a group of fellow service members famously stopped an Islamic extremist from attacking riders on a Paris-bound train, had set him apart from the typical politician in Washington, D.C. He also expressed his desire to see more veterans elected to Congress, something that has happened less and less since the decades immediately following World War II, when a majority of Congress had previously served in the armed forces.
“I think the military taught me a lot when it comes to how to deal with bureaucracy, first of all, and also about decisiveness and taking action in a way that I think a lot of politicians in D.C. could learn from,” he said. “We are at, I think, one of the lowest points for veteran membership in political office in this country. And I look forward to changing that.”
“No one has a higher stake in what happens to the young people of this country, whether it be fighting another war or the terrible way in which we pulled out of Afghanistan than veterans. So I look forward to seeing myself and a lot of other veterans elected this cycle,” he added.
Skarlatos admitted that, considering the Democrat advantage in the district, it would be tough for him to run a campaign just on garnering support from Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.
He stressed the importance of winning over people in the middle, as well as some “soft Democrats,” and expressed his optimism that it could be done by focusing on “common sense issues” that appealed to everyone, such as high gas prices, inflation, high interest rates, and the rise in crime across the state.
Access to health care, he said, was high on his list of legislative priorities should he be elected, pointing to the district being the poorest, as well as the oldest, in the state.
“I think that’s something that everyone can get behind, whether you’re Republican, Democrat or unaffiliated,” he said.
Skarlatos lamented the homelessness facing Oregon, as well as the left-wing activism the state was increasingly becoming known for, but said the issue was not just relegated to his part of the country.
He blamed the increase in gas and diesel prices for partially affecting the rise in the cost of goods nationwide, and pointed to his district being largely rural and poorer as the reason for it being more affected by those economic issues.
“Being the poorest congressional district in the state, we can afford inflation, and we can afford gas prices the least of any other part of the state of Oregon, and particularly just about any other part of the West Coast. I mean, this is a very blue collar, working class district and people are not getting more for their money. They’re getting significantly less,” he said.
Skarlatos added that the difference between him and Val Hoyle, the Democratic nominee for the district, could be narrowed down to their positions in how to deal with those economic issues.
“Val Hoyle has said that she doesn’t believe in any new fossil fuel infrastructure when gas is $5 a gallon in the state, and diesel is about six. She’s also voted to raise taxes on hospitals and nursing homes, again, our most vulnerable population. Seniors in the poorest congressional district in the state can afford that the least as well,” he said.
“I think those kinds of baseline economic issues are where you’re going to see us separate. I mean, she’s appealing pretty much to the Democrats in the district. Her sign even says a Democrat for Congress on it,” he added.
He went on to express hope that Oregonians in the 4th District would see that they were not better off under decades of solely Democratic rule, and that he would win over unaffiliated voters, as well as benefit from Republican enthusiasm for the election.
“I hope that people are sick of the inflation. I think they’re sick of being the poorest congressional district in the state. I think they’re sick of the rising crime rate, rising groceries and everything,” Skarlatos said.
“It just seems like this country is really at a turning point. And if we can’t win in an open seat in this kind of a year in Oregon, it just seems like we’re hopeless. So I certainly hope that we can take back the House and win a lot of these competitive seats in a year like this,” he said.
“I mean, hell, even as we talk, the Dow has tanked over 1,200 points. So I just think that we cannot sustain the direction that this country is on currently,” he added, referencing Tuesday’s largest single-day drop in the stock market following a worse than expected inflation report.
According to Fox News’ Power Rankings, the race for Oregon’s 4th Congressional District is rated as “lean Democratic.”
The general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.