POLITICS

State Rep. Andrea Salinas, a Democrat, wins in Oregon’s 6th Congressional District

Democratic state Rep. Andrea Salinas has won the race for Oregon’s 6th Congressional District, one of the last remaining uncalled House districts that could determine which party controls Congress.

With Salinas edging out Republican supply-chain executive Mike Erickson by about 6,000 votes, the Associated Press called the race for her Monday night. Along with Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who won in the neighboring 5th District, Salinas will be one of Oregon’s first Latinas in Congress.

Salinas commented on her heritage in a statement after the AP called the race.

“My dad came to the United States from Mexico in 1950 and worked in the fields picking cotton and tomatoes before he was in the first grade,” she said. “It’s my family’s story that made me believe change is possible in a single generation  but only if we work for it. I can’t promise that change will come easily. But I can promise that, no matter who you voted for or what lies ahead, I will be your champion – always. It’s the honor of my lifetime to be your congresswoman-elect.”

Oregon will have a 4-2 congressional split after Chavez-DeRemer won in the 5th District, which had been represented by Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader. Control of the U.S. House was still unknown Monday, with several uncalled races throughout the country. 

Before taking office in January, Salinas will need to prevail in a lawsuit Erickson preemptively filed in October to overturn the election should Salinas win. The lawsuit, filed in Clackamas County Circuit Court, revolves around a Salinas campaign ad about Erickson’s 2016 arrest for drunken driving and his possession of unprescribed oxycodone. 

The ad stated that Erickson was charged with felony drug possession, though Hood River County prosecutors never actually filed drug charges. In legal documents, Salinas and her campaign manager argued that police charged him.

Erickson sued under an Oregon law that allows for an election to be overturned if a judge determines that the winner told a lie that affected the election’s outcome. He also sought at least $800,000 in damages, which he said would pay for ads he ran to correct the record. 

Salinas raised more than $2.8 million for her campaign. Erickson loaned his campaign more than $2.4 million and raised less than $900,000 from other sources. 

The 6th District was new this year because of Oregon’s population growth during the past decade. It includes all of Polk and Yamhill counties, as well as the city of Salem and portions of Marion, Clackamas and Washington counties.

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Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.