House Democrats’ PAC buys ads for Carrick Flynn in CD6, irks other candidates

It’s the second race in which Oregon Democrats say D.C. Dems are putting their thumb on the scale

By: - April 11, 2022 6:16 pm

Carrick Flynn (campaign photo)

A political action committee affiliated with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is spending close to $1 million on TV ads for a Democratic candidate in Oregon’s new congressional district. The other candidates aren’t pleased.

The race for the Democratic nomination in the new 6th Congressional District  – encompassing Salem, portions of Portland suburbs and all of Polk and Yamhill counties – includes two state legislators, a cryptocurrency investor, a former Multnomah County commissioner, a doctor, an engineer – and Carrick Flynn, a 35-year-old political newcomer.

Flynn’s campaign already attracted the attention of at least two other political action committees, which together spent nearly $6 million to help his campaign by April 9, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Protect Our Future PAC, run by cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, is responsible for about $5 million in pro-Flynn ads that have become inescapable on TV in the district. Justice Unites Us, a PAC focused on turning out Asian American and Pacific Islander voters, spent more than $800,000 on canvassing for Flynn. 

The latest pro-Flynn spending by an outside group came from the House Majority PAC, the largest super PAC aiding Democrats running for Congress.

In late March, the PAC announced it planned to spend more than $3 million in Portland and almost $200,000 in Bend ahead of the November election as part of $102 million in ad purchases for candidates nationwide. It didn’t specify how much would be spent in primaries. 

Rival Democratic campaigns flagged an ad paid for by the House Majority PAC that will begin airing Tuesday morning in the Portland market. In a joint statement, six other Democratic candidates condemned the PAC’s “unprecedented and inappropriate decision.”

State Reps. Andrea Salinas and Teresa Alonso León, Salem physician Kathleen Harder, cryptocurrency investor Cody Reynolds, former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith and Intel engineer Matt West signed onto the statement.  

“House Majority PAC — House Democratic leadership’s Super PAC, allegedly tasked with holding Republicans accountable and electing Democrats to Congress — should not be spending resources to divide Democrats,” they said. 

House Majority PAC’s most recent work in Oregon, according to its website, were attack ads against two GOP congressional nominees in 2020.

“This effort by the political arm of the Democratic establishment to buy this race for one candidate is a slap in the face to every Democratic voter and volunteer in Oregon — and is especially concerning in a year when all resources must go to protecting the Democratic majority,” the statement continued. 

The National Republican Congressional Committee last month added the new 6th Congressional District to its list of targets, joining Oregon’s 4th and 5th Congressional Districts. 

The campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, BOLD PAC, which endorsed Salinas, also criticized the House Majority PAC for supporting Flynn instead of Salinas. U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Arizona and the committee’s chairman, said in a statement that Democrats should be doubling down on investments to help qualified Latino and Latina candidates, noting that the 6th District is 21% Hispanic. 

Flynn’s campaign manager, Avital Balwit, said in a statement that Flynn welcomed the support. 

“Carrick is proud to have the backing from a broad coalition of supporters from throughout Oregon’s 6th congressional district, across the state and from all over the country,” he said. “The path to keeping the House in Democratic hands starts right here in Oregon’s 6th and Carrick is the only candidate who can solidly carry this district for the Democrats in the fall.”

The House Majority PAC’s involvement in Oregon’s new congressional District comes after a separate organization, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, irked grassroots Democrats in the 5th District by campaigning for incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader. 

County Democratic parties in Clackamas, Deschutes, Linn and Marion counties took the unusual step of endorsing his progressive challenger, Jamie McLeod-Skinner,  in what they described as an attempt to level the playing field.

The DCCC, a membership organization for current members of Congress, isn’t involved in primaries in Oregon’s two open House races in the 4th or 6th congressional districts.

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Julia Shumway
Julia Shumway

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.