In “blue” Oregon, where Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump by 11 points in 2016, Republican candidates like Art Robinson in the state’s 4th Congressional District face a steep challenge against Democratic incumbents such as Rep. Peter DeFazio.
Robinson ran against the progressive congressman for the first time in 2010, regarding it as a public service, and he’s run each election since then.
But this year stands out from the rest, he said, because he hasn’t experienced the overt opposition on the campaign trail of previous elections.
“What I see out there is tremendous enthusiasm for the president, and the other side is shut down,” he told WND.
“I don’t think the pollsters can see it.”
Robinson, a well-regarded Ph.D. scientist, educator, businessman and 38-year Oregon resident, served on the faculty of the University of California-San Diego, was president at the Linus Pauling Institute and now is head of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.
The former chairman of the state Republican Party, Robinson believes that all of the Republicans in the 2018 midterms “rise and fall with Trump.”
And he sees strong enthusiasm for the president, because they recognize Trump is advancing the conservative agenda, including confirming constitutional judges, bolstering the economy, improving international relations and defending religious liberty.
“I don’t think it’s because they idolize a man,” he said of the enthusiastic support for Trump in a blue state. “I’m not suggesting this. The important thing is that he gets things done.
“This is an accomplished man who talks to people in their language.”
Throughout southeast Oregon, he said, for every request for an Art Robinson sign, there are three requests for a Trump sign.
“These Trump signs – I’ve never seen anything like it – basically, you go out with a bunch of Trump signs and they’re gone,” he said.
And he doesn’t hear the catcalls and see thumbs-down signals that have been typical of previous election campaigns.
“I’m not seeing it. It doesn’t mean we’re winning the election. It means the other side is suppressed,” he said.
“Trump will do a lot better than people think.”
Robinson said that as a four-decade resident and former party chairman, he knows Oregonians, and he believes it’s a state that should not be controlled by the Democrats.
“Most of the grass roots people are people you would be pleased to have in your home for dinner,” he said.
He typically wins five of the seven counties in the 4th District, which he describes as the size of Switzerland with about a third of the economy.
In Lane County, where Eugene hosts the University of Oregon, and Benton County, where Corvallis hosts Oregon State University, the state schools “pour in money” to the local economies, he said.
But business owners outside of those areas tell him they are struggling, and when he brings up the subject of getting government off of their backs, “they can’t stop talking.”
“I believe there’s a significant percentage of the other half who will vote for Trump candidates,” he said.
Many are afraid to speak up, he said, and some who might otherwise be inclined to take a Trump sign say, “I don’t need trouble with my neighbors.”
When Robinson has gained ground against DeFazio, he said, the Democrat’s campaign fights back with billboards falsely claiming the Republican candidate would end Social Security and all merit-based college scholarships.
“He’s piled on higher and higher as he’s worried about me as an opponent,” Robinson said.
In 2016, DeFazio defeated Robinson 55 percent to 40 percent.
Robinson’s concerns include securing the borders and ending illegal immigration; balancing the federal budget; ending “unconstitutional corporatism” in which businesses buy favors from politicians; a strong defense; education under under the control of parents, teachers and local communities; protecting the unborn; and protection of property rights.
In his campaign, Robinson seeks to educate voters, noting that many believe America is a majority-rule democracy, not the constitutional republic the Founders established.
“Most of the things politicians are promising are unconstitutional,” he said.
Robinson noted that former U.S. senator and NASA astronaut Harrison Schmitt, who has campaigned for Robinson, recalled that his mindset as a lawmaker of trying to solve problems went against the grain.
Like Robinson, Schmitt, the last man to land on moon, is a scientist.
“A politician wants to position himself to benefit from a problem,” Robinson said. “He doesn’t want the problem to go away.”
The problem of veterans getting access to crowded VA medical facilities is an example, he said.
Robinson believes a simple solution in exchange for their service to the nation would be to give the veterans a card that would enable them to obtain care at any clinic and send the bill to the government.
But leaving the problem in place enables congressional offices to assist individual vets in gaining access. When the Congress member grants a favor, the vet tells family members and friends, and more votes are won.
“DeFazio gives speeches about being concerned about the problems, but he never solves them,” Robinson said.