Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 1986, 15th term.

Born: May 27, 1947, Needham, MA

Home: Springfield

Education: Tufts U., B.A. 1969, U. of OR, M.S. 1977

Professional Career: Dist. dir., U.S. Rep. James Weaver, 1977–82.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Catholic

Family: married (Myrnie)

Peter DeFazio, a Democrat first elected in 1986, is a persistent—and sometimes petulant—populist who doesn’t mind showing his independence from his party or loudly criticizing the conservative ideas he disdains. Oregon’s longest-serving House member, he became the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's top Democrat in 2015.

DeFazio (da-FAH-zee-oh) grew up in Massachusetts, came to Oregon for graduate school, was a bike mechanic, and went to work for 4th District Rep. Jim Weaver, a Democrat. In 1982, DeFazio moved to Springfield and won a seat on the county commission. When Weaver retired in 1986, DeFazio won his House seat in a tight race. He beat Bill Bradbury 34%-33% in the primary and won the general election 54%-46%.

DeFazio has compiled a record that seems to satisfy both Eugene and the rest of the district: He’s liberal on most issues, yet moderate on social issues. An original founder of the loose-knit Progressive Caucus, he has not been shy to express his anger that millions of working Americans suffered during the boom years before 2008. He opposed the Clinton-era North American Free Trade Agreement and later was a leader in the fight to defeat normal trade relations with China.

DeFazio is known for sarcasm and his tendency to yell during debates. He has dismissively referred to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, whom he considers overly protective of Wall Street, as “Timmy.” Referring to the GOP’s fiscal policy, he told MSNBC in 2009: “Tax cuts solve all problems. I mean, we are pretty soon going to fill potholes with tax cuts.” But in an acknowledgment of the need to keep himself in check, he told The Oregonian of Portland in January 2013 that he keeps a blood-pressure cuff attached to his iPad.

Despite a mostly liberal voting record, DeFazio often takes idiosyncratic views. He has unsuccessfully called for abolishing the Selective Service System, the independent federal agency that manages draft registration. DeFazio blames his failures on his colleagues’ desire not to appear weak on defense. He introduced a bill in 2011 allowing people to opt out of the health care law’s individual mandate reviled by Republicans—but only if they waived the right to any government-backed medical help for at least three years. He voted against climate legislation in 2009 putting caps on carbon emissions because he said there were better ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as a carbon tax. And he introduced a bill calling for a tax on large stock and derivative transactions that drew predictable enmity from Wall Street and business-minded Democrats. He took the lead in the House effort to permit airline pilots to carry guns in the cockpit, and although the Bush administration opposed it, DeFazio won by an astonishing 250-175. The Senate later followed suit.

To become Tranportation and Infrastructure's top Democrat after serving as top Democrat on the Natural Resources panel, DeFazio initially faced a challenge from California's lower-key John Garamendi, who argued that he could work more successfully with Republicans. But Garamendi eventually dropped his bid. DeFazio has called for replacing the federal gasoline tax with a per-barrel tax on oil companies. "What if we got rid of the tax that people don't like and move it upstream to something that most people don't like -- the oil industry?" he asked The Oregonian.

When Democrats won control of the House in 2006, DeFazio took the influential post of chairman of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Highways and Transit Subcommittee. He was the only member of Congress to oppose the final 2009 economic stimulus bill after backing the original House version, saying it did not sufficiently boost transportation spending. He worked to get $1.1 billion authorized for Oregon projects in the 2012 two-year surface transportation bill. He also made sure the measure contained a temporary extension of county payments for Oregon counties.

Until 2010, DeFazio routinely won reelection by more than 60% in a marginal district. That year, Republican Art Robinson held him to 54% of the vote after getting a boost from outside interest groups’ ads tying DeFazio to liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He beat Robinson again with 59% in 2012 after first crushing Robinson’s son, Matthew, 90%-10%, in the Democratic primary. And in 2014, he beat Robinson once more with 59%.

After GOP Sen. Bob Packwood resigned in 1995, DeFazio ran to succeed him. His opposition to gun control and NAFTA provided clear contrasts to Democratic Rep. Ron Wyden, but the better-funded Wyden won the primary 50%-44% and went on to prevail in the general election.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-6416

(202) 226-3493

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2134
Washington, DC 20515-3704

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-6416

(202) 226-3493

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2134
Washington, DC 20515-3704

DISTRICT OFFICE

(541) 465-6732

(541) 465-6458

405 East Eighth Avenue Suite 2030
Eugene, OR 97401-2716

DISTRICT OFFICE

(541) 465-6732

(541) 465-6458

405 East Eighth Avenue Suite 2030
Eugene, OR 97401-2716

DISTRICT OFFICE

(541) 269-2609

(541) 269-5760

125 Central Avenue Room 350
Coos Bay, OR 97420-2316

DISTRICT OFFICE

(541) 269-2609

(541) 269-5760

125 Central Avenue Room 350
Coos Bay, OR 97420-2316

DISTRICT OFFICE

(541) 440-3523

(541) 440-3525

612 SE Jackson Street Room 9
Roseburg, OR 97470-4956

DISTRICT OFFICE

(541) 440-3523

(541) 440-3525

612 SE Jackson Street Room 9
Roseburg, OR 97470-4956

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 1316
Springfield, OR 97477

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(541) 485-1622

PO Box 1316
Springfield, OR 97477

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Agriculture

Megan Debates
Senior Legislative Assistant

Animal Rights

Megan Debates
Senior Legislative Assistant

Budget

Kris Pratt
Legislative Director

kris.pratt@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6416

Commerce

Megan Debates
Senior Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Kris Pratt
Legislative Director

kris.pratt@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6416

Intelligence

Megan Debates
Senior Legislative Assistant

Tax

Kris Pratt
Legislative Director

kris.pratt@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6416

Trade

Megan Debates
Senior Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Peter DeFazio
Votes: 212,866
Percent: 59.19%
Art Robinson
Votes: 140,549
Percent: 39.08%
2012 PRIMARY
Peter DeFazio
Votes: 69,864
Percent: 90.11%
Matthew Robinson
Votes: 7,665
Percent: 9.89%
2010 GENERAL
Peter DeFazio
Votes: 162,416
Percent: 54.49%
Art Robinson
Votes: 129,877
Percent: 43.58%
2010 PRIMARY
Peter DeFazio
Votes: 74,568
Percent: 97.8%
2008 GENERAL
Peter DeFazio
Votes: 275,143
Percent: 82.34%
Jaynee Germond
Votes: 43,133
Percent: 12.91%
2008 PRIMARY
Peter DeFazio
Votes: 119,366
Percent: 99.21%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (54%), 2008 (82%), 2006 (62%), 2004 (61%), 2002 (64%), 2000 (68%), 1998 (70%), 1996 (66%), 1994 (67%), 1992 (71%), 1990 (86%), 1988 (72%), 1986 (54%)

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