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Student Congressional candidate doesn’t shy away from controversy



Stefan Strek is a 27-year-old University of Oregon student who studies art and French and works on campus. On his Facebook page, Strek writes things like, “Reasons women are like cats,” — he gives 13 of them — and he reminisces about skipping class in high school to “drink malt liquor” and “get laid.”

He’s now taken on a new interest: running for Congress.

Strek is one of five Republican candidates running in the May primary election to determine who should represent Oregon’s 4th Congressional District, which includes Coos, Curry, Douglas, Lane and Linn counties. Only one Democrat is challenging incumbent Peter DeFazio for his seat. Strek stands out from the other candidates who have run before and are significantly older. He’s the only candidate in one of the most politically contested districts of the country who wore a tank-top, flip-flops and baggy, multicolored swim trunks in front of a statue of the Sphinx at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Past experience

Strek isn’t new to local politics. In 2016, he ran for mayor of Eugene and received 1,003 votes, despite not holding any prior public office. In his mayoral application, Strek wrote that his only past political experience was going to the U.S. embassy in Caen, France, to celebrate the 4th of July and drink whiskey and eat chicken wings with “top American and French politicians.”

Even though he lost the mayoral race, he told the Emerald that he received support from voters outside of Eugene.

“There was a large amount of people I spoke with who supported my viewpoints, but couldn’t vote for me since they didn’t live within city limits,” he said. “People like that I approach things objectively with an open mind.”

Strek said that running for office will give him a chance to better address issues that he cares about, such as veterans’ health care and Oregon’s foster care system.

“I care about people; I’ve seen way too many people that were let down by public policy,” he said. “I want to do what I can to make sure people are safe, have access to health care and have the economic opportunities so they have hope for the future.”

Issues

Strek is running as a Republican, but calls his politics “common sense.” Strek said that issues such as veterans’ health care and Oregon’s foster care system can be better addressed at the federal level. According to his preview in the voters’ pamphlet, Strek’s priorities include building a border wall, creating jobs, lowering taxes and “deporting-illegals.”

Other than economic issues, Strek is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment. In a January forum with the other Republican candidates, Strek said that if he won the general election he would “criminalize the infringement on Second Amendment rights” and that he would work to pass legislation that would imprison legislators who try to limit citizens’ access to guns. In an interview with the Emerald last Thursday, Strek said that the Second Amendment is “the foundation of what makes our country the greatest nation on earth,” and without it “we lose the entire Constitution.”

Social media presence

On social media, Strek does not hold back on what he chooses to share. In a Facebook post about South Eugene High School’s decision to change its mascot’s name from “Axemen” to “Axe,” Strek wrote that he spent half of his time in high school “skipping class to drink malt liquor downtown and the other half skipping class to get laid.”

Strek told the Emerald that voters would perceive posts like these positively.

“For the most part, everyone enjoys a good drink and a good time with their gender or nongender of choice… who doesn’t enjoy a good time in general?” he said. “It’s good to show transparency and that shows a significant level of progress that I met you here instead of drinking 40s downtown and meeting up with girls. I’m at a phase in my life where I don’t care about getting drunk every day. That’s just a fun time to look back on.”

Strek recently wrote on his Facebook page that women and cats are similar because they “pick on each other in unnecessarily complicated ways” and are “constantly grooming themselves.” When asked how women voters in Oregon’s 4th Congressional District would perceive this post, Strek said that they would perceive it positively.

“I mean, you think that’s wrong? Most girls have a pretty decent sense of humor and they appreciate cat references. Most girls like cats and identify with them,” he said. “I respect cats, just like I respect women.”

What’s next?

If he wins the primary in May, Strek says he hopes to gain to the support of UO’s voters in the November general election. Despite campaigning on controversial values like building a border wall and “deporting illegals,” he said he can win voters.

“If they took the time to think about it, yes, they would support me. I’ll work harder than anyone else in this race to get this job,” he said. “If elected, I will work harder than anyone else in Congress, and you can guarantee that.”


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Michael Tobin

Michael Tobin

Michael is the Emerald's senior news reporter. In his free time, he enjoys rock climbing and going to house shows. Drop him a tip via email at [email protected]