PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon’s population growth created a new congressional district following the 2020 census. This open seat attracted a number of candidates in the primary, but Democrat Andrea Salinas and Republican Mike Erickson earned the nods for the general election.
Both candidates are from Lake Oswego. Erickson is a businessman who runs a supply chain and logistics consulting company. He ran for Congress in both 2006 and 2008 for the 5th District seat. Salinas is the daughter of a Mexican immigrant who was a legislative aide for Sen. Harry Reid, Congressman Pete Stark and Congresswoman Darlene Hooley. She’s been in the Oregon legislature since 2017 and was the majority whip of the House Democratic Caucus.
Erickson and Salinas are joined on the November ballot by Larry McFarland of the Constitution Party.
Oregon’s new 6th District includes all of Yamhill and Polk counties, the part of Marion County that includes Salem and Woodburn, a small piece of Beaverton, and the suburban communities to the southwest of Portland, including Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood.
Mike Erickson and Andrea Salinas
Mike Erickson and Andrea Salinas each appeared for an extended interview by KOIN 6 News’ anchor Ken Boddie for “Eye on Northwest Politics.” They each answered similar but not the same questions and their answers to those questions are below.
Erickson: “As I go through the district and these county fairs, I’m talking to farmers, small businesses and families. And everybody says, even our polling shows 30% or 32% of the voters say inflation or the economy is the biggest issue out there. There are 3 other ones tied for second within 1 point each, but the economy and inflation is the biggest problem facing this country and in my district area. I really think we need to get a few things. One of them energy independence. We need to get our energy prices back down so that we get our gas prices back down to about $2.50 to $3 a gallon like it used to be. That is the biggest driver of inflation for a lot of people. They can’t drive their cars to work. It costs more to get there than it used to by about double, triple. So we got some problems out there. The price of food, the price of housing, all of those are just skyrocketing. The price of labor now as a farmer or as a businessman myself here, the labor costs are going up dramatically. Those are all being passed on to consumers at every level. And then the last thing I see out there that’s really affecting inflation is supply chain, shipping costs. Just yesterday or this week we did a press release on it, FedEx is raising rates dramatically starting here in September, October, November. They’ve got these peak season charges that UPS I’m sure will follow that are going to affect every person that orders products online to their homes or their businesses. I mean, shipping costs are going through the roof. Trucking costs, I mean, that’s what I do every day in my business is try to help companies reduce those shipping costs and manage your supply chains. I’ve been doing this for 30 years. It’s devastating to our economy as well.”
Salinas: “Congress has already started doing some of this this past summer. Congressional Democrats in a bipartisan way passed the Chips and Science Act which will lower costs, create jobs, strengthen supply chain. Semi-conductor chip manufacturing is the foundation of our supply chain issues right now. And we have a co-benefit that we will counter the supply chain issues that we have with China with this. It’s things like this, it’s making sure that we are addressing, again, the cost of living by lowering health care costs, prescription drug costs, making sure the premiums around insurance costs are more affordable, and energy and utility costs. These are hitting families’ budgets right now. And this all affects their bottom line and whether it’s a small business or a middle class family. These are all things that were tackled directly in the Inflation Reduction Act. I was really excited that Democrats took this on and they were able to pass this. We can obviously do more. We’re investing right now under the Inflation Reduction Act in green energy jobs that will produce thousands of jobs here in Oregon, good union-paying jobs for families. So making sure we build that in a meaningful way. But at the same time making sure that energy costs are going down. So these are the types of things that I am really excited to tackle as the next member of Congress.”
Inflation Reduction Act
Erickson: “No, I would not have (voted for it). I think it’s just laden with problems and there’s too many issues that need to be addressed before I would have signed that thing. … The title of it does nothing to solve our economic crisis. The Inflation Reduction Act — I mean, it does nothing for that. What it does do is it hires 87,000 more IRS agents to go out there and challenge people’s tax returns in this country. That’s 87,000 or $80 billion being spent on the IRS and none of that is going toward border security or Homeland Security. Right now this bill that just got passed and signed by Biden, that’s going to add, it will be almost as big as Homeland Security. I just think that’s wrong. We should put more of our dollars to help secure our border as a priority.”
Salinas: “Oh, absolutely (would have voted for it)! It’s a nationwide bill that will benefit not just Oregon but states across the nation who really want to take advantage of it. I think it does 2 things: It helps lower costs for families. It also puts us on the right track for a clean energy future.”
Trump’s influence on the GOP
Erickson: “There are those in the party that like Trump and don’t like Trump. Trump can endorse anybody he wants and he endorses different people on his own whims. Now I do like many of Trump’s policies — reducing income taxes, reducing business regulations. I also support his policies on strengthening our armed services, the growing threat from China and the Pacific, Russian aggression that we’ve seen in eastern Europe. I agree with Trump that we need secure borders to allow us control of who comes into this country. You know, all these things that Trump did are great for our country. And we’ve gotten away from those. I think the policies he enacted, a lot of people agree on both sides of the party, they were good for our country and I think we need to go back to some common sense problem-solving approaches in Congress.”
Possibility of bipartisanship
Erickson: “I’m tired of the partisan bickering and the political fighting. You see it here at the state level, you see it at the national level. I grew up in a family that had some of my family were Republicans, some were Democrats and we all got along good. We solved family issues without all the bickering you see nowadays. Even my business here, I’ve got a very diverse group of employees here — Democrats, Republicans, independents — we get along great here. When the people start getting back into the political fighting in DC or Salem it really causes troubles. But people for the most part get along fine in this country and this state, regardless of your party. We need to take that mindset back to Washington and work together. We need to be more of a problem solver than the political fighting. I think if we all go back to Washington DC and I really want to go back there and work across party lines to solve the problems. I don’t think we have enough people elected that will go with that mindset. I’m just fed up with it. I think if we really want to solve the problems that are most devastating this country we’re going to have to work across the party lines and work together. If I go back to Congress I will make a commitment to the people of this district and this state I will work across party lines to solve these problems.”
Salinas: “I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think I could work across party lines. People and voters and constituents in this district are worried about polarization because it really prevents us and members of Congress from getting things passed. Voters want Congress to get things done. They want a representative who will commit to working on addressing economic issues, lowering those costs I was just talking about and creating those good paying union jobs and, you know, protecting our right to make our own decisions around health care and abortion care. So I would say, yes, they want to see Congress deliver. And when they elect me to do that, that is what I will commit to doing. I have worked across the aisle here in Oregon with many different legislators at the state level working on health care issues, working on environmental issues. I have a relationship with a couple members of Republicans in Congress right now. So if they want to continue to build those divides and really start working on things to deliver, I’m here to do it, too.”
How each wins
Erickson: “The people are frustrated with the direction of our country and our state. This (early) poll gives me some optimism that, hey, this country and this state are ready to make some changes. I think the people of this district like the fact I’ve been a common sense businessman and not a politician. I’ll tell you more about that. But I really think this country is ready for some new direction, even here in Oregon. I don’t think this will be impossible. This is our second poll in the district, by the way, and they’re both very encouraging to us. So we’re excited with where we’re at and we’ve got a great campaign team that’s helping me. We’re excited what the poll shows so far.”
Salinas: “I win it by really talking to voters and making sure I’m really addressing their needs and the things they’re talking about. You know I’ve been in the district talking to the community, talking to mayors, county commissioners in Polk, Marion, all across Washington and Clackamas counties, Sherwood, Salem, Independence, McMinnville. The things that I’m hearing right now are really the people want us to attack the cost of living and strengthen the economy, to lower the cost of health care, to strengthen our supply chain, to make sure we’re lowering the cost of their utility bills and energy. And really to make sure they have what they need so that they can return to work in a full and complete way as workers. Those are things I’ve been working on here in the state legislature as chair of the House Health Care Committee. I think I have a really good grasp on health care costs. I was the first person, I think in the nation, to implement a bill that lowers the cost of prescription drugs for everyone. Its transparency provides transparency around drug price manufacturing. Those are the types of things, it’s how I win. Talking about the issues, making sure I’m addressing the issues Oregonians and voters in this district really care about.”