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Oregon 6th District Democrats: Men outraising women despite political inexperience

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Oregon Capital Bureau

Three men who have never held public office have raised and spent more for the Democratic nomination in Oregon’s new 6th District congressional seat than three women who are or have been elected officials.

The three men also happen to advocate or develop cryptocurrency, a digital currency run through a computer network instead of a central authority, such as government.

They are in order of fundraising Cody Reynolds, Matt West and Carrick Flynn. The women officeholders are Rep. Andrea Salinas, former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith and state Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon of Woodburn.

A total of nine Democrats are running.

On the Republican side, the leading fundraiser is Mike Erickson, a Lake Oswego businessman who was the party’s losing nominee in 2006 and 2008 for the 5th District seat. Six other Republicans trail Erickson, who has raised $723,000, including $457,000 in loans.

Oregon gained a U.S. House seat as a result of the 2020 Census. Legislative mapmakers created a district that extends from the Portland suburbs — part of Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood, and part of Clackamas County — into Yamhill and Polk counties, and the portion of Marion County that includes Woodburn, Keizer and Salem.

The winners of the major-party primaries May 17 will face off in the Nov. 8 general election. Minor-party candidates qualify for the ballot through a different process.

Federal law limits contributions by individuals and many political action committees. But as a result of a 2010 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, contributions by other types of campaign entities are not limited and not subject to disclosure requirements.

The Democrats

Political newcomer Carrick Flynn of McMinnville has drawn a lot of attention as a result of the independent expenditures made on behalf of his campaign. Under federal rules, the spending cannot be coordinated with his campaign — but those sources are bankrolling political advertising on his behalf.

At least $5 million comes from the Protect Our Care PAC, which is associated with the cryptocurrency industry and Sam Bankman-Fried, who leads a cryptocurrency exchange. (Some accounts report another $1 million on top of the earlier total.) Another $1 million comes from a political action committee with ties to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; its action drew sharp criticism from six other Democratic candidates back on April 12.

But according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, Flynn’s campaign had yet to raise $1 million by itself — $910,000, as of its latest report April 27.

That total put Flynn behind two other Democrats: Cody Reynolds of Tualatin, an Army veteran and cryptocurrency investor, who has loaned himself most of the $2.7 million he has raised — and Matt West of Beaverton, an Intel engineer and cryptocurrency developer, who has loan $600,000 of the $1 million he has raised.

In contrast, state Rep. Andrea Salinas of Lake Oswego has raised about $638,000 — about 10% of it from political action committees, which usually stay out of primaries — former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith about $309,000, including a $60,000 loan, and state Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon of Woodburn, $85,000.

Dr. Kathleen Harder, a physician at Salem Clinic also making her first bid for public office, has raised $460,000, including a $211,000 loan.

The other Democrats in the primary have reported no contributions or spending.

The Republicans

Meanwhile, Erickson advertises himself as “a new voice for Congress,” but this campaign is his third attempt to win a House seat.

He was the losing Republican nominee in 2006 to Democratic incumbent Darlene Hooley of West Linn. When Hooley retired in 2008 after six terms, he lost to Democrat Kurt Schrader for the 5th District seat, which extended south from Clackamas County into the mid-Willamette Valley and the central Oregon coast. (The boundaries of the 5th were redrawn in 2021 to turn east across the Cascades instead of west to the coast. The district now takes in part of Deschutes County, including Bend.)

Erickson largely bankrolled his prior campaigns, and he has lent himself $457,000 of the $723,000 he has raised for his current campaign, according to a FEC report.

Erickson is not the only former 5th District nominee to make another try for Congress.

Amy Ryan Courser, a former Keizer city councilor who was the party’s 2020 nominee against Schrader, has raised $102,000 for her current campaign.

Jim Bunn of Amity was the 5th District U.S. representative for one term, between 1995 and 1997, before he lost to Hooley in 1996. He has reported raising only $26,000. (Bunn also ran for an Oregon House seat in 2008 but lost in the primary.)

The other Republicans are Nathan Sandvig of Neskowin, an energy developer, $252,000; state Rep. Ron Noble of Carlton, a former McMinnville police chief, $141,000; Angela Plowhead of Salem, a clinical psychologist, $50,000, and Dundee Mayor David Russ, $10,000.

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