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Robinson says he'll run against DeFazio again

Cave Junction chemist Art Robinson wants to make a fifth try for the congressional seat held by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield, but it appears he will face at least two challengers in the May 2018 Republican primary.

DeFazio, who has held the U.S. House District 4 seat for 30 years, has not yet filed for re-election.

Two other Republican candidates have already filed. They are Jo Rae Perkins of Albany, who ran unsuccessfully against Robinson for the Republican nomination in 2016, and newcomer Stefan Strek of Eugene. It also appears Curry County Commissioner Court Boice plans to throw his hat in the ring. Boice has not yet filed but has launched a campaign website.

Robinson, 75, a former Oregon Republican Party chairman, said he’s optimistic about his chances against DeFazio in 2018, because he won five of seven counties in the district in 2016, and gained 20,000 more votes than in 2014.

His priority if elected would be to help free the people from restrictive regulations he said unfairly burden them.

He also said he would work for increasing timber harvests. He said DeFazio has not done enough to protect timber interests, and noted that Josephine County recently lost its last lumber mill.

He said in order to improve the economy, it’s important to get the “administrative state off the backs of the American people. Every time an American turns around, he’s got a license or a permit or a lawyer activated by somebody trying to prevent him from doing his work.”

Strek, 27, who works as a clerk in the University of Oregon’s financial aid department, ran unsuccessfully for Eugene mayor in 2016, receiving less than 2 percent of the vote. Strek said he is a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump.

He believes he’d have a better shot at winning the District 4 race because people he spoke to outside Eugene city limits were more supportive of his mayoral candidacy. That led him to think the congressional district would be better for him, demographically.

Strek listed defending Second Amendment rights as his top priority, and said he wants to prevent gun control regulations passed in California from spreading to other states.

Strek said he wanted to improve health care by ensuring people can get medications they need, and by pushing for patients’ rights. He also said the cost of malpractice insurance and frivolous lawsuits is too high.

Perkins is a former chairwoman of the Linn County Republican Party, who served from 2009 to 2012. She ran for Congress in 2016, and won 32 percent of the vote in the 2016 primary, compared with 68 percent for Robinson. She said she plans to run a higher profile campaign this time.

Perkins, 61, is also a Trump fan. She said when she heard Trump’s campaign speech, she looked at her husband and said, “Who gave Donald Trump my campaign brochure? It was like he was reading straight out of it. I was blown away.”

Perkins said her strength is that as a “micro-business” owner, she understands main street America. Perkins has been a realtor and a certified financial planner. Her husband is a carpet installation contractor.

“I think we need a main street American who understands that the money the government takes is not the government’s money. It belongs to the people,” she said.

Major concerns for Perkins are the national debt and immigration policy. She wants to see an end to runaway federal spending, by increasing the role of the states.

Perkins wants to see Trump’s promised wall built between the U.S. and Mexico, to keep illegal immigrants out.

Perkins also believes the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service should not own land, and said that land should be turned over to the states.