Democratic state lawmaker Andrea Salinas has defeated Republican business owner Mike Erickson to win Oregon’s new 6th Congressional District seat.
That means Democrats will control four of Oregon’s six seats in the U.S. House. Salinas and Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who won the 5th Congressional District race, will be Oregon’s first two Latinas in Congress. In total, Oregon will send four women to the House.
Near-final results tallied as of 5:30 p.m. Monday showed Salinas ahead by 6,300 votes, leading Erickson 50% to 47.6%.
With her victory, Salinas disapproved the doubts of national pundits who increasingly questioned whether she could prevail in the district, once considered a safe Democratic seat. However, Republicans still appeared to be on their way Monday to retaking control of the U.S. House from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her party, though narrowly so.
A Republican victory in the 6th District would have been a significant blow for Salinas, who led her party’s effort to redraw lines of Oregon’s congressional districts in 2021. The map she helped craft was one that Democrats and political experts said would most likely result in Democrats winning five of the six districts, including hers. But Democrats fell short of that mark after Chavez-DeRemer’s victory in the 5th District.
Oregon’s first new congressional district in 40 years, the 6th District stretches from Portland’s southwest suburbs to Salem, with most of its voters in Marion and Washington counties.
Political observers considered Oregon’s 6th and 5th district races among the closest in the nation for the U.S. House this year. The 4th District, where Democratic labor commissioner Val Hoyle solidly beat Republican Alek Skarlatos, was also seen as competitive, but less so.
The Cook Political Report rated the 6th District as a tossup this fall. But Salinas benefited from outside Democratic groups, which poured $5.7 million into the race to boost Salinas, according to nonpartisan election watchdog Open Secrets. Republican groups spent only $1.2 million to buoy Erickson.
Erickson loaned his campaign more than $2.4 million, which enabled him to surpass Salinas in overall fundraising. As of mid-October, Erickson had reported raising $3.47 million compared to $2.87 million raised by Salinas, according to the Federal Election Commission.
A former Democratic congressional aide and lobbyist, Salinas was elected to represent Lake Oswego in the Oregon House in 2017. She has pledged to build on her progressive record in the Legislature and work to pass a national minimum wage hike, increase child care funding and prioritize climate policies in Congress.
She ran on her record in Salem, where she helped pass a centerpiece 2019 law providing workers with 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave annually. Salinas also supported laws extending overtime pay to farmworkers and mandating the state’s largest utilities provide 100% clean energy by 2040.
On the campaign trail, Erickson hammered Salinas as soft-on-crime over her past support for criminal justice reforms and blamed her for homeless encampments in Portland, even though Portland is outside of her legislative district.
Erickson founded the shipping consulting firm AFMS Logistics Management Group in 1992. He said his background would make him well-positioned as a member of Congress to tackle supply chain woes contributing to inflation. He said he would also advocate for veterans and prioritize more funding for local police departments in response to the “lawlessness” he said had taken over Oregon.
Salinas and Democrats aired ads calling Erickson hypocritical for his tough-on-crime stances because of a 2016 arrest for drunk driving. They also criticized his past support for abortion restrictions because he paid for an ex-girlfriend’s abortion in 2001. Erickson has maintained he gave the woman $300 and drove her to a Portland medical clinic but wasn’t aware that she was getting an abortion.
Erickson said in an October interview that states should decide their own abortion policies and the procedure should be allowed in cases of rape, incest and danger to the mother. Salinas opposes restrictions on abortion.
— Grant Stringer; email@example.com; 503-307-3591; @Stringerjourno
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