Editorial: Why in the 4th it's a contest
The election contest for U.S. House in the 4th District is much closer than anyone expected a few months ago. The Oregonian and Congressman Peter DeFazio say it’s because of money. More likely, it’s because of the extraordinary campaign Art Robinson has waged.
In an editorial on Thursday, the Portland daily made much of a “wealthy outsider,” a subscriber to Robinson’s newsletter, who donated wads of money to a political action group in Washington, which then spent some of it on television ads against DeFazio.
If that’s supposed to be such a big and influential factor, what about all the DeFazio ads trying to make Robinson look like a fool and a stooge of Wall Street? Don’t they count? And did they come free?
Incumbents routinely rake in tons of cash from interest groups that want something. And DeFazio’s reports show this was the case again.
So along comes an outsider and, on his own, without any contact allowed between him and the candidate, he tries to even the scales. That’s supposed to be bad for democracy?
The anti-DeFazio ads have been kind of rare in this part of the 4th District. But DeFazio’s anti-Robinson ads have been seen on cable far more often. So from here, it would be a stretch to claim that TV ads — and the source of their funding — have been the main thing that made the race competitive for Robinson.
A far more likely cause is Robinson’s campaign. During the summer, way before any sensible person was thinking of the general election, Robinson signs started peppering the countryside all along I-5. The score was Robinson 100 or so, and DeFazio zero.
Then there was the offer by Robinson to face DeFazio in a series of seven debates, actual debates along the lines of those held in forensic competitions in high school and college. DeFazio declined, and no matter how he couched it, this came across as chicken.
It was weird. DeFazio is a feisty guy not afraid of a fight, so why would he shrink from facing a political novice in a direct debate?