PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Democrat Val Hoyle has won the open U.S. House seat in Oregon’s 4th Congressional District, keeping it blue following the retirement of longtime Democratic incumbent Peter DeFazio.
Hoyle defeated Republican Alek Skarlatos, who was making his second bid for the seat.
The district includes Oregon’s southern and central coasts, including rural, conservative areas but also the more populous, liberal college towns of Eugene and Corvallis.
Hoyle was elected Oregon’s labor commissioner in 2018. She previously served in the state House, including three years as majority leader.
Skarlatos, a former member of the Oregon National Guard, gained fame in 2015 for helping thwart an attack by a heavily armed gunman on a train bound for Paris. The dramatic and heroic action was made into a movie by Clint Eastwood in which Skarlatos starred as himself.
Skarlatos narrowly lost to DeFazio in 2020 in the district’s closest race in 30 years. Redistricting following the 2020 census set up the seat to be safer for Democrats.
DeFazio, Oregon’s longest serving congressman, was first elected to represent the district in 1986. Voters there haven’t elected a Republican to the U.S. House since 1972.
Democrats controlled four of the state’s five previous U.S. House seats, including in the 4th District, and are hoping to claim its newly created sixth one as well. Oregon was one of just six states to gain a seat after the 2020 census.
So far, Democratic and Republican incumbents in Oregon’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts have won won reelection to their U.S. House seats.
Democrats Suzanne Bonamici in the 1st and Earl Blumenauer in the 3rd held their districts, which both include parts of Portland, while Republican Cliff Bentz was reelected in the sprawling 2nd, which covers about two-thirds of the state.
The two most hotly contested races in Oregon’s 5th and 6th Districts were too early to call on Thursday.
Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer, a businesswoman and former mayor of the Portland suburb of Happy Valley, is hoping to flip the 5th District red for the first time in over two decades. The super PAC linked to House Republicans, the Congressional Leadership Fund, spent more than $2.7 million on several ads in the district, which stretches from Portland’s affluent southern suburbs to the central high desert city of Bend and includes the rural, mountainous areas in between.
Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner, an emergency preparedness coordinator, is aiming to keep the district blue. The progressive candidate ousted moderate seven-term incumbent Kurt Schrader in the party’s primary.
Chavez-DeRemer is one of two candidates running to be Oregon’s first Latina elected to Congress, along with Democrat Andrea Salinas in the state’s new 6th District.
The 6th also includes parts of Portland’s southern suburbs, along with the state capital, Salem, and more rural areas. In that race, Salinas, a state representative and former congressional staffer, is up against Republican Mike Erickson, a businessman who is running for Congress for a third time.
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Claire Rush is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Claire on Twitter.
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