PORTLAND, Ore. — Television viewers have seen wall-to-wall campaign ads as the November 8 election draws closer. Oregon's congressional races are unusually tight in a typically blue state, and are drawing a lot of interest and money from both Republican and Democratic national party committees.
One of the most competitive races is in Oregon's newly created sixth congressional district between Democrat Andrea Salinas and Republican Mike Erickson.
The new district was created following the 2020 census and includes parts of southwest Portland, Salem, Woodburn, Yamhill County, and Lake Oswego in Clackamas County.
Salinas is a three-term state legislator who represented Lake Oswego. Erickson is a Lake Oswego businessman who is running as a political outsider. He also ran unsuccessful congressional campaigns in 2006 and 2008.
Erickson and Salinas were guests on this week's episode of "Straight Talk" to make their case to voters on why they are the best choice to represent the new district.
Erickson makes his case to voters
Mike Erickson said there are dramatic differences between him and his opponent and believes he would better serve constituents because of the many years he has lived and worked in the district.
"I've been a businessman, a job creator. I've either lived or worked in the district consecutively for almost 40 years. I started my company here in Tigard over 30 years ago. I used to work at the Tigard Fred Meyer in college," he said.
Erickson also touted his support for law enforcement and a tough on crime stance as a reason voters should choose him.
"I support backing our police and law enforcement officers. I see my opponent has voted against many different legislations, six of them recently, a lot of them really make a police officer's job tougher," Erickson said.
Salinas makes her case to voters
Salinas said she's been working on behalf of hard working families in the district for years going back to her time as a legislative aide for former Congresswoman Darlene Hooley in 2006 in the fifth district, and then as a lawmaker herself for three terms in the Oregon legislature.
"...as a state legislator who really tries to implement policies that effect lots of Oregonians, but in particular the women in the district who really appreciate the fact they can make their own health care decisions on reproductive health care, the fact I helped to pass a paid family leave bill that allows people to take time off work when they have a sick loved one or to bring home a newborn child," she said.
Erickson on tackling inflation
Erickson said as a businessman who focuses on supply chain issues, he understands how inflation is impacting businesses and families. He said the price of gas, diesel, and labor costs have gone up dramatically. He said he's dealing with that inflation pressure, too, and pledged to go to Congress and get inflation under control.
"We have runaway national debt. Government feels we can just keep adding more to that. We really need to manage our money, our federal dollars better than we are today. And I'll be a big part of that," he said.
In addition to reining in federal spending, Erickson said he would focus on addressing supply chain problems.
"I think there is a lot of price gouging in the supply chain on a global level. I'd like to go back and dig deeper. I do this every day. I help companies reduce their supply chain costs. That's a big part of inflation right now, so I'd like to be a hawk in that area," Erickson said.
Salinas on tackling inflation
Andrea Salinas said families, including her own, are feeling the impacts of inflation. She said she’s hearing most from voters about the cost of gas and groceries. She’d like to see a new waiver to allow thousands of gas stations to sell gasoline with 15% ethanol, and make sure the US is releasing some of its oil reserves in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. She also wants to take a look at possible price gouging.
“…it really needs to be in a comprehensive way. What are corporations doing right now to take advantage of the time we are in with inflation and what is going on with price gouging. We know big oil has done this in the past,” she said.
Salinas stressed the need for the nation to be energy independent and her belief the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act will help put the U-S on track to do that.
Lawsuit over negative ad
Erickson also refuted a negative campaign ad the Salinas campaign has run about Erickson's arrest for drunk driving in Hood River in 2016. He explained why he's filed an $800,000 lawsuit against her campaign and Salinas herself. He called the ad "100% false" and said Salinas is lying.
Salinas defended her campaign's decision to run the ad and said she stands by it and refused to apologize.
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Straight Talk airs Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 9 a.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Straight Talk is also available as a podcast.