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Photo: Andrea Salinas Website
Andrea Salinas is a State Rep. in Oregon running for Congress. Photo: Andrea Salinas Campaign Website

House Dems super PAC draws Latino ire in Oregon as it endorses primary contender to Andrea Salinas

Salinas is running to become the first Latina ever elected to Congress from the state.

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Andrea Salinas, a Latina Democrat running for Congress in Oregon's 6th District, has amassed over 80 endorsements, from half the Latina Democrats in the House, as well local leaders and national political and labor groups.

She also has support from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ (CHC) campaign arm in her endeavor to become the state’s first Latina in Congress.

Salinas, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant, has gained the support of top progressive groups, including Planned Parenthood Action Fund and the Service Employees International Union.

Oregon’s current Democratic Gov. Kate Brown recently endorsed Salinas, saying that she is the “champion needed” to fight for Oregon’s families in Congress. 

If successful, Salinas would join a small group of Latinas in Congress. Currently, less than 3% of Congress members are Latina, just 13 out of 435. 

But House Majority PAC (HMP) brought unexpected damage to Salinas’ campaign this week. In a recently drawn district that has a Latino population of more than 20%, HMP invested $1 million into TV ads on behalf of a first-time, white candidate. 

The political campaign arm for the  Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC BOLD PAC) denounced the House Majority PAC’s decision to intervene in the primary. 

“Instead of supporting Andrea, House Majority PAC is spending nearly $1 million to prop up her opponent Carrick Flynn. This stands in contrast to the thinking of a majority of Democrats who know that Latino candidates and voters must be taken seriously for the midterm elections,” it said in a statement. 

In its statement, CHC BOLD PAC criticized HMP for ignoring the political power of voters and candidates of color, as demonstrated in the 2020 elections. 

“HMP is tasked with defending the House Majority by boosting Democrats and holding Republicans accountable, not with spending critical resources against a woman who has spent decades fighting for progressive causes and who will excite Democratic voters in November,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, chair of BOLD PAC. 

CHC BOLD PAC was one of the first organizations to endorse Salinas, with the intention of galvanizing Latino voters during an off-year election when turnout usually decreases. 

Salinas was outraged as well, telling Axios it was not only surprising, but a complete “slap in the face” to herself and those who back her campaign. 

HMP’s move has sparked an overwhelming amount of criticism from Latino leaders and progressive strategists, who say that they were caught off guard by the sudden investment in Salina’s opponent, Carrick Flynn.

HMP typically only weighs in on an election once a Democratic nominee has officially been chosen, and not before. 

“We need to be united now and coalesce around the candidate who can turnout the full coalition of Democratic voters in the state… and you cannot win just about anywhere in the United States without the Latino vote. It is disappointing,” Kristian Ramos, a Democratic strategist, told POLITICO

This unexpected blow to Salinas’ campaign comes at a bad time for Democrats. As Republicans slowly make more gains with Latino voters, this setback serves a reminder of the ongoing challenges the party faces with its struggle to appeal to Latinos. 

Even worse, there seems to be nothing in Flynn’s resume to explain why HMP would intervene on his behalf in a crowded primary. Flynn is an Oregon native who who graduated from Yale Law School, and worked at Oxford University and Georgetown University before returning to the state. 

Salinas, on the other hand, has been an Oregon State Representative since 2017, where she passed the nation’s most progressive paid family leave bill. 

HMP’s first two ads in support of Flynn aired on Tuesday, and Salinas’ first TV ads aired as well. 

Salinas’ ad highlighted her fathers work in the agriculture industry, her successes as a state representative, some of her most prominent endorsements, and her goal to “fight for a stronger Oregon.”

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