Replacing Pete DeFazio: Environmental Champion Doyle Canning vs Political Hack & Establishment Shill
When Doyle Canning ran a quixotic campaign last cycle against entrenched, long-time congressman Pete DeFazio, she drew 17,701 votes in the primary-- just 15.5%. The whole southeast corner of the state-- from Albany and Corvallis in the north, down through Eugene to the California border, it isn't really a safe seat. Although Democrats run up huge margins in Lane County (Eugene), which has half the voters in the district, the smaller, rural counties are all red (except for Benton County-- Corvallis and Albany). Douglas, Linn and Josephine counties especially, make election in OR-04 close.
Although Obama was reelected by over six-and-a-half points, Hillary only one by a tiny handful of vote (0.1%) and Biden won 50.7% to 46.7%. That same year, DeFazio won 240,950 (52%) to 216,018 (46%), against a well financed Republican kook, Alex Skarlatos, who spent $5,331,264. Even though the district is safer after redistricting, the Democrats have to nominate the right person to win the seat now that DeFazio is retiring.
The state's Democratic establishment is going in exactly the wrong direction-- pushing one of their own-- a political insider, Val Hoyle, who will inspire no one at all. Doyle Canning is running again and DeFazio moved quickly to endorse Hoyle. There are at least 10 Democrats in the primary.
Skarlatos is back in the race and will surely be the GOP nominee-- and he's already raised over a million dollars and is spending heavily, knowing there will be plenty more where that came from. Hoyle has raised $212,630 and Andrew Kalloch, an Airbnb executive, has raised $148,775. Canning just entered the race (after the reporting period ended)-- although you can contribute to her campaign here.
So what's wrong with Hoyle? Have you ever heard of Jordan Cove? Earlier this week, Nick Cunningham explained the whole mess for DeSmog readers. He wrote that "Within hours of DeFazio making his retirement public, Val Hoyle announced her intention to seek his seat. He quickly endorsed her. Hoyle served as a representative in Oregon’s legislature from 2009 to 2017 and is currently the state Labor Commissioner. She quickly consolidated the backing of powerful Democrats, with U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) endorsing her in late January. But at a time when the climate emergency is worsening and the Democrats’ climate agenda is sputtering, DeFazio’s anointed successor for his relatively safe Democratic seat [redistricting in OR-04 was very kind to the Democrats where the PVI went from an R+1 to a D+9] is a candidate who has a long record of supporting Jordan Cove, the now-defunct liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project that southern Oregonians battled for more than 15 years."
Jordan Cove LNG was a colossal fossil fuel project that would have been the state’s largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions if it had been built. Canada-based Pembina, the company’s owner, finally pulled the plug in December 2021 after a decade and a half of trying to ram it through state and federal permitting.
DeFazio’s choice to replace him, Val Hoyle, accepted donations from Jordan Cove and people associated with the project during her stint as a state representative when she had influence over the project. In September 2014, Hoyle received a $5,000 donation from Don Althoff, the CEO of Veresen, the previous owner of Jordan Cove before Pembina took over the company. At the time, Jordan Cove was seeking key permits at both the federal and state level.
A year later, Hoyle decided to run for Oregon Secretary of State, a position that, among other things, would have substantial influence over state permits for Jordan Cove. At an October 2015 debate, Hoyle set herself apart from two rival Democrats in the primary, with a full-throated backing of Jordan Cove. Her opponents tried to carve out a neutral position on the project, as many other Oregon Democrats did for many years.
“I support the project,” even if that might mean “[I’ll] take heat,” Hoyle said at the debate. “I will say that in this room. I will say it in rooms of people who oppose liquefied natural gas.”
Two months later, she received a $5,000 donation, this time, directly from Jordan Cove.
Hoyle lost that 2016 primary, but in 2018 ran for Commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. During that campaign, she received donations that also have connections to Jordan Cove. In April 2018, Jordan Cove sent $40,000 to a group called Oregonians to Maintain Community Standards, a political arm for a coalition of building trades unions. A few days later, on April 26, 2018, Oregonians to Maintain Community Standards funneled the same amount-- $40,000-- to Building Trades PAC, a separate entity. On that same day, Building Trades PAC sent $10,000 to the Hoyle campaign. It is unclear if these events are directly connected, but the timing is noteworthy.
...[H]er vocal support for Jordan Cove, and her acceptance of campaign contributions from the company, sets her apart from other Democrats in the state, including two who have endorsed her: Merkley announced his opposition to the project in 2017 and DeFazio waffled on it for years but ultimately came out against it in 2019.
While Jordan Cove had support from unions, it was widely opposed by a broad coalition of southern Oregonians that spanned the political spectrum. The Chairman of the Klamath Tribes warned in 2018 that the project risked sparking “the next Standing Rock,” and that it would “pulverize sites of cultural importance.” And with the threat of eminent domain looming over people living in the pipeline’s path, many landowners fought the project for a decade and a half.
...The backing of Hoyle by powerful Democrats in Oregon is all the more puzzling given that there is another candidate in the race who is loudly campaigning on the urgency to address the climate crisis.
Doyle Canning, the vice chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon Environmental Caucus and a former consultant for Greenpeace, challenged DeFazio in the Democratic primary in 2020, but lost by a wide margin. She is running again in the Democratic primary putting climate change at the center of her campaign. She has the backing of the local chapters of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate justice organization, as well as other progressive groups in the state.
“Nibbling around the edges of this will not avert the disaster that is coming if we do not rapidly transition off of fossil fuels,” Canning told DeSmog.
She’s running on a climate platform with three overarching themes: rapid decarbonization, nature-based solutions that sequester carbon and restore forest and coastal ecosystems, and accountability for big polluters who have lied and misled the public about the climate crisis for decades.
Canning also signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge and says that candidates accepting money from polluting industries are part of the reason there has been so little action on climate at the federal level.
An old line careerist liberal and phony environmentalist DeFazio doesn't care about anything but defeating Canning. He told Cunningham that he "had one of the most outspoken environmental candidates, Ms. Canning, and she primaried me last time and trashed me on the environment and everything else. A very negative campaign. I didn’t spend a penny [he's lying; he spent close to a million dollars on the primary] and she got 15 percent of the vote. So, she’s going to try to hurt Val. She’s using the same tactics she used against me. Very nasty. Not out there talking about what she’s going to do, other than she’s going to stand on the street corner with a megaphone."
"Very nasty" is a better description of DeFazio, who couldn't handle the idea of being primaried. After the primary Canning helped unite progressives around the old hack and helped him beat Skarlatos. Canning told Cunningham that "We beat Jordan Cove. This is the district that built a movement from the bottom up, out of nothing, with no support from the political establishment, and beat back a $15 billion fossil fuel company. People haven’t forgotten about who was on our side when the going was pretty tough." Again, please consider contributing to Doyle Canning's campaign here-- unless you're in favor of electing more establishment hacks to Congress.