Politics

Paralympian and Sled-Dog Racer Enters Oregon Congressional Race

Democrat Rachael Scdoris-Salerno will challenge Republican Rep. Greg Walden in Oregon's 2nd District

Credit: Campaign Facebook Page

Democrat Rachael Scdoris-Salerno will challenge Republican Rep. Greg Walden to represent Oregon's 2nd District in 2018. 

Scdoris-Salerno, 32, is most well-known for competing in four Iditarod sled-dog races and as a tandem cyclist at the Paralympics twice. She is legally blind due to a congenital disorder called achromatopsia. She and her husband own a sled dog tour business in Bend, Ore. 

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the district as Safe Republican.

Scdoris-Salerno said that running for office hadn’t been on her mind until the passage of the Republican health care bill in the House.

“As a person with a pre-existing condition it was nearly impossible for me to get insurance as a young adult,” she said. “With Obamacare I was finally able to get coverage. Now the powers that be in Washington are working to dismantle that.”

When asked about her ideal health care legislation, Scdoris-Salerno said, “A lot of people like the idea of Medicare for all, and I like the idea as well.”

With the district’s large size and often rural nature, Scdoris-Salerno said one of her strengths would be finding common ground between environmentalists and agriculture advocates.

“There’s a narrative that says environmentalists and the ranching community are at odds,” she said. “That’s not necessarily the case. They all want the same thing: to be good stewards of the land.”

In a Facebook post, she took a populist tone in describing her politics, saying Walden as represents millionaires and billionaires, special interest groups, and major corporations. Scdoris-Salerno also emphasized her rural lifestyle, which she said would help her represent farmers and ranchers in her district.

“I have lived totally off the grid since the 3rd grade,” she wrote, “and my home is on 40 acres in the middle of the Oregon Badlands Wilderness Area.” 

Scdoris-Salerno said the decision to run came when her father posted his thoughts on the Republican bill’s passage on Facebook and mentioned the possibility of Scdoris-Salerno running.

The “outpouring of support and encouragement” in response to that post inspired her to run.

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