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Bankman-Fried-linked PAC-backed candidate loses Oregon primary

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Andrea Salinas has won the Democratic primary for Oregon’s newly created 6th Circuit seat in the United States House of Representatives. From virtually the outset, the campaign was the subject of intense media attention, mostly centered around Salinas’ opponent Carrick Flynn, whose campaign was generously funded by the Protect Our Future (PAC) political action committee, backed by billionaire FTX CEO Sam Bankman – Fried. The PAC paid for a barrage of publicity supporting Flynn.

Salinas won the seat with 38% of the vote, while Flynn took second place with 19%, with the remaining votes split among seven other candidates.

Salinas had a solid political background, serving three terms as the representative of the upscale Portland suburb of Lake Oswego in the state House of Representatives. Before that, she was a legislative adviser in Washington and worked for an environmental group in Oregon. Flynn, an Oregon native who left the state after graduating from college in 2008 and returned in 2020, was pulled out of the dark with support from the PAC.

Flynn also received $1 million in support from the House Majority PAC, which is closely associated with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Senator Elizabeth Warren countered the move by backing Salinas. Flynn appeared to be a serious contender in a poll released May 7. Protect Our Future changed its advertising tactics a few days later, switching from ads mostly showing Flynn’s difficult rural childhood to attacking ads targeting Salinas and accusing her of being influenced by the pharmaceutical industry.

The stated goal of Protect Our Future is “to help candidates who have a long-term view of political planning in the election […] guided by a set of key principles,” which include pandemic prevention and belief in science. These themes reflect a philosophical trend called effective altruism, which both Flynn and Bankman-Fried are known to admire. It is estimated that Protect Our Future spent between $8 million and $10 million on Flynn’s campaign.

“This is, by all reports, about three times the rate of any other Super PAC effort in any congressional primary in the country,” Jim Moore, director of political outreach at the McCall Center for Civic Engagement, told Cointelegraph in an email:

“The ads gave Flynn notoriety, but not victory. They caused a backlash from the other candidates and apparently a number of voters for trying to get a seat in Congress with borrowed money.”

Flynn’s opponents formed a united front to condemn him, and local media made much of Flynn’s loose ties to the state, his patchy voting record, and the potentially questionable motives of the PAC supporting him. The controversy soon attracted national coverage as well.

“Flynn’s political future in Oregon will depend on whether he becomes an active player in state or local political efforts,” Moore said. “If not, it will end up being a trivia question about the time a cryptocurrency billionaire and the House Majority PAC tried to snap Oregon’s new district for reasons never made clear in the campaign.”

Related: Coinbase forms a second PAC to support crypto-friendly candidates

Protect Our Future’s ample financial support has also proved controversial in other election campaigns. The PAC’s donations were used in advertisements by an opponent of Jasmine Crockett in Texas District 30. Crockett received about $1 million from the PAC. Protect Our Future is also among the PACs voting between Democratic nominees Carolyn Bourdeaux and Lucy McBath in the contentious battle for Georgia’s 7th Circuit.

Flynn, Andreas, and Protect Our Future President Michael Sadowsky have not responded to Cointelegraph’s requests for comment at the time of publication.