The head of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., characterized Oregon's 4th Congressional District seat a "sleeper" race where Republican candidate Alek Skarlatos had a chance of unseating 17-term Democrat Peter DeFazio in November.
Emmer, 59, a three-term House member, told Newsmax TV that Skarlatos' background as one of a handful of people who helped thwart a terrorist on a Paris-bound train in 2015 combined with President Donald Trump's history of losing the Oregon 4th by fewer than 500 votes in 2016 makes it ripe for a Republican gain.
"This is a sleeper race," Emmer told "Spicer & Co." "People should understand that Oregon's 4th district, Donald Trump only lost this district by a few hundred votes, less than 500 votes in 2016. Based on what's happening in places like Portland – look, Skarlatos is a tier one candidate himself. He's raising a lot of money.
"He's got an amazing story."
Skarlatos, 27, was a member of the Oregon National Guard who had completed a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan when he was on vacation in Europe with two childhood friends. They were travelling on a high-speed train from Brussels to Paris when they and two other passengers helped subdue a Moroccan armed with a AKM rifle, pistol and knife and who confessed his intention to massacre Americans.
The episode was made into a feature-length film by director Clint Eastwood, "15:17 to Paris" in which Skarlatos portrayed himself.
DeFazio, 73, was first elected to Congress in 1986 and has defeated Republican Art Robinson in the past five elections, receiving anywhere from 54% to 59% of the vote. Republicans did not run a candidate in the district in 2008.
"DeFazio thinks he's untouchable," Emmer said. "He thinks he's just an automatic. This is a guy who started the progressive caucus, that has grown into the socialist caucus in Congress. This is a guy who supports Medicare for all, and the new green deal, or the green new deal."
Democrats control the House of Representatives 232-198 with one seat held by a Libertarian and four seats vacant. Emmer said he believes the GOP can reclaim control of the House in November.
"We're not going to have their money. It's just not possible," Emmer said. "We're going to have enough money, I believe.
"It takes more money to sell a lie, and that's what they sold in 2018. They told the American people that they were coming to Congress to be moderate problem solvers. And what they did is they came here, they came here to be the most partisan, obstructionist group that I think Congress has ever seen. And they're going to lose the majority because of it."
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