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'Draw, DeFazio!'.

Byline: The Register-Guard

Congressman Peter DeFazio's Republican challenger, Jim Feldkamp, is standing in the dusty cow town street, calling on DeFazio to strap on his six-gun and walk through the swinging saloon doors to the showdown outside. You can almost see the shopkeepers ducking in doorways and drawing their shades as women in calico hoop skirts hustle their children down the wooden walk in the opposite di- rection.

"Yer yellow," Feldkamp shouts, fingers twitching nervously above the handle of his Colt. "And yer old and slow and I can take you!"

DeFazio stares impassively into the middle distance, an unlit cheroot between his teeth. He's faced down these trigger-happy challengers before. "I'll let him sweat in the sun," the gunslinger tells the bartender.

The campaign horse opera is under way, unerringly following an ancient script. Feldkamp, a Navy Reserve officer and former FBI agent, hopes he can make a bit of political hay by criticizing the veteran Democratic lawmaker for refusing to debate him.

But DeFazio holds all the high cards. He knows a challenger always has more to gain from a debate than an incumbent, so his strategy is to stall. DeFazio will not have his campaign staff breaking a sweat to arrange a debate.

Feldkamp and his supporters will keep applying pressure, using every opportunity to remind people that DeFazio refuses to engage in the noble tradition of political debate. Finally, "scheduling conflicts" will be resolved, and a debate will ensue.

As it was and ever shall be. Both candidates just need to remember never to sit with their backs to the door.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Editorials; Challenger Feldkamp urges incumbent to debate
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 3, 2004
Next Article:No 'partisan slip'.

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