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Kalloch filed to run for Congress on Tuesday; Gelser Blouin, Rayfield and others decided to stay in Legislature

Contenders for Rep. Peter DeFazio’s congressional district are shifting.

A policy executive at Airbnb is in the race and several legislators have opted out while Democrats in southwest Oregon weigh their odds for the newly open seat.

Andrew Kalloch, a Harvard-educated lawyer now living in Eugene, filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday to run for Oregon’s 4th Congressional District. He told the Capital Chronicle he plans to launch his campaign after the new year. 

DeFazio, D-Springfield, announced early this month that he would retire in 2023 after nearly four decades representing southwest Oregon. Kalloch is the second Democrat to formally enter the race, following Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle. 

“We’ve got a chance for the first time in 36 years to have a real conversation about what people want the future to be in this corner of the state,” Kalloch said. 

Kalloch, 37, is originally from Massachusetts and moved to Portland in 2017 after marrying Oregon native Jenna Adams-Kalloch, an attorney now working for the University of Oregon. The couple relocated to Eugene with their children in 2020. 

Kalloch is on leave from Airbnb, where he served as the short-term rental company’s senior global policy manager, while he runs for office. 

He told the Capital Chronicle that he’s not worried about his relatively brief tenure in the district. 

Hoyle has lived in Lane County for more than two decades and represented the Springfield area in the state House for eight years before she was elected labor commissioner in 2018.

Other Democrats who observers thought would enter the race, including state Reps. Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, and Julie Fahey, D-Eugene, declined to run and instead endorsed Hoyle. 

“There have been calls for some to step aside, but I actually think there will be many people running,” Kalloch said. “That’s great because then the people of this district get a chance to hear different approaches to leadership and hear different ideas about what the future is. It’s really the people’s seat; it doesn’t belong to anybody.”

Also on Tuesday, state Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin, D-Corvallis, told supporters that she had decided against running for Congress, and will instead seek re-election to the state Senate in 2022. 

“Discussions with my longtime political advisers, donors, friends, supporters and activists in Oregon and across the nation quickly made it clear this would be a viable race for me to enter,” Gelser Blouin wrote in an email. “However, at the end of the day, I care far more about where I can do the best work for my community than what title I carry on my business card.”

Gelser Blouin said the current gridlock in D.C. makes progress unlikely, and that she has been successful in the Legislature. She recently received a national award for her work on child welfare legislation. 

Serving in Congress would also take her away from her family, and she said she wants to stay in Oregon with her new husband to watch her stepson grow up and manage support for an adult son with disabilities.

State Sen. James Manning, D-Eugene, has also decided against running for Congress. State Rep. Marty Wilde, D-Eugene, and Coos County Commissioner Melissa Cribbins previously told the Capital Chronicle they’re considering running.

Candidates must file with the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office by March 8 to appear on the May primary ballot. They can’t file with the state until Jan. 1, when redrawn congressional maps take effect, but can file federally and begin accepting campaign contributions at any point. 

On the Republican side, 2020 nominee Alek Skarlatos is running again and is thus far his party’s only candidate. Skarlatos, a former Army National Guardsman, gained international recognition for stopping an armed terrorist on a Paris-bound train in 2015. 

In 2020, Skarlatos outraised DeFazio by $500,000 and lost by more than 5 points. After congressional redistricting, the district now favors Democrats, a factor DeFazio said played into his decision to step down. 

“My district is, thanks to the Legislature, now 5 or 6 points better for Democrats,” he said during a December press conference. “Finally I have a district that another Democrat can win. It’s no longer a Republican district.”

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Les Zaitz for questions: info@oregoncapitalchronicle.com. Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.