Until not too long ago, Oregon’s only open Congressional seat wasn’t actually open. But then Democratic Rep. Darlene Hooley announced that she wasn’t seeking reelection in the 5th District — the continual cross-country flights and fundraising were a serious strain, she told us in February — and this election season got a lot more interesting.
The 5th Congressional District looks sort of like a T that fell on its side. It starts with a long stretch of coast, moves east past Polk County on the way to Salem, dips south into Corvallis, pushes eastward in Marion and Clackamas counties to Mt. Hood, and makes its way up to Portland’s south side. All of this geographic and demographic diversity seems to have created an evenly divided electorate: the Rothenberg Political Report has written that out of 435 House races this November, Oregon’s 5th is one of only 15 that will be “pure toss-ups.”
To get to that toss-up, of course, the various hopeful nominees will have to get past May 20. The Democrats have a lively primary race on their hands, and their top three candidates will be joining us on Thursday. But tomorrow we’re turning to the Republican race.
Mike Erickson, a Lake Oswego businessman who lost to Hooley in 2006, is in the running. He lists securing America’s borders to stop illegal immigration as his highest priority, and he wants to establish English as our official language. He promises to bring “a businessman’s approach to government,” which includes cutting both taxes and spending. After spending about $1.5 million of his own money in 2006, he has already kicked in more than $590,000 this time around. Unfortunately, despite repeated requests, Erickson’s campaign has told us that because of his schedule he won’t be able to join this Primary Conversation.
Kevin Mannix will be here. The lawyer, former state legislator, statewide office-seeker (with two bids each for Attorney General and Governor), previous Oregon Republican Party Chairman, and tough-on-crime initiative champion is a pretty recognizable figure in state politics. He wants to make Bush’s tax cuts permanent, encourage environmentally sound oil exploration and drilling (as well as energy conservation), and secure our borders “through all necessary means.”
Are you a registered Republican in Newport, Keizer, Oregon City, or Molalla? What issues are most important for you in this primary? And who are you hoping to send on to the general?