Six Residents of His District Give Their Impressions of Carrick Flynn

“That’s why we call him Mr. Creepy Funds.”

By now, nearly everyone living in Oregon’s 6th Congressional District has heard of Carrick Flynn. The list of people who have met him is far shorter.

As commercials for Flynn swamp his district, WW spoke to more than a dozen local officials and politically influential people in Oregon wine country and the Willamette Valley. We asked them when they first heard Flynn’s name and what they made of him.

Few had met him. But everybody had an opinion. These have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Chuck Bennett

Mayor of Salem

How did you first hear of Carrick Flynn?

I saw an ad on TV, like everybody else.

Is this a first for you—learning of a serious congressional campaign via TV?

Yeah. I began seeing ‘em all the time. And then my mailbox has just been constantly receiving these expensive-looking, large cards. There was no substance to them. My reaction: Who is this guy? And I still don’t know.

Do you have a sense of whether he would be a good congressman for the district?

No, he wouldn’t. What in his background would make me, as the mayor of the city of Salem, his [district’s] largest city, a former legislator from the district, a 50-some-year resident of this district—why would I be thinking he has a clue what he’s talking about?

Nothing he has said has indicated he knows anything about our community. Nothing. In fact, he seems to pride himself on not having much knowledge of the district or information about it.

Campaigns always take money. Why is this expenditure a problem?

This is so odd. This is a huge amount of money being dumped into a race on someone no one’s ever heard of. You’re not calling me because this makes sense to anybody that you’re talking to.

Ramsey McPhillips

Yamhill County farmer, board member of four nonprofits

When did you first hear of Carrick Flynn?

We’re inundated out here [with ads]. Late February, through March. The first info I heard about him anecdotally: He was not good for Oregon’s land use system. I’m a farmer that’s holding the line.

What would you tell him?

Before he runs for office, come roll up your sleeves and get involved in the community. That should be what directs his messaging and his advocacy, rather than some crazy ideology from out of state.

Several candidates have come to visit me at my farm to see what I’m doing with regenerative agriculture. I’ve not heard from him at all. There’s a group of us that are deeply holding the wall here, for creating local jobs and protecting resources and the environment. And none of the people have met him. That’s why we call him Mr. Creepy Funds.

Casey Kulla

Candidate for Oregon labor commissioner, Yamhill County commissioner, farmer

When did you first hear of Carrick Flynn?

My wife got a newsletter or spam email probably in January. And she was like, who is this? And we checked in with everyone we knew, and nobody had ever heard of him. But [the Flynn campaign] reached out, having seen that I was taking other people on tours.

What did you talk about on the tour?

I took him on a very rough, fast drive into the forest with the intent of having the opportunity to talk. There’s that magic about sitting next to someone and hashing things out, without having to look at each other.

We talked about forest policy. We jumped out at an intersection where a bunch of public land meets. I do this thing, it’s like indoctrination, explaining here’s our state forest policy, here’s our federal policy. On the spotted owl thing: I was like, “C’mon, dude! Did you learn nothing from me?”

What did you think of him?

He’s a very awkward fella but is very real. He was gentle, easygoing. He has a uniform. It’s like someone picked it out for him. It’s a checkered flannel and slacks that could be like, “I’m going to go split some wood or go talk to Bill Gates.”

Byron Brown

Civics and government teacher at Vernonia High School; retired last July after 24 years

When did you first hear of Carrick Flynn?

I taught him in middle school and in high school.

What was he like?

He asked a lot of questions, paid attention all the time. He wasn’t very chatty. And this is rare for a boy in high school, but he always thought before he said something.

What was his relationship with other kids?

People cared about what he thought. He was always the smartest kid in the class.

Do you remember all the kids you teach or just some?

There’s no way I could remember them all. But nope, never forgot Carrick. As the years went on, I would hear about his accomplishments. We were all so proud of him. Even more so now.

Sal Peralta

McMinnville city commissioner, small business owner, lobbyist, advocate for campaign finance reform

When did you first hear of Carrick Flynn?

It was an ad on social media, probably Facebook. I’ve never met of him, never heard of him. Until I saw him on the super-PAC commercials. You can’t open up Facebook or YouTube or social media without seeing those.

What do you think of the spending?

I have never seen public consent so thoroughly manufactured by a single person, as Mr. Bankman-Fried has done.

A person who doesn’t reside here can spend millions to elect a congressman. And our highest court claims that this doesn’t corrupt candidates, our elections or our system of government? It’s disheartening.

Watching this year unfold has really undermined my faith in democracy. If this is the new normal, what’s the point?

Brian Clem

Democratic former state representative from Salem

When did you first hear of Carrick Flynn?

Early to mid-January, I heard that there was this guy named Carrick Flynn who was investigating whether to run for Congress and looking for consultants and ended up crossing paths with mine.

What do you think of Flynn’s remarks on spotted owls?

I thought he was a Russian bot at first. But [the owl comments] made me consider voting for him for the first time. That proves to me he’s an actual Oregonian who lived through this stuff, like a lot of us, and will be a good general election candidate.

I grew up in a rural town like he did, and I have similar emotional wounds about how urban people think about rural areas as potentially just tourism destinations. And yet lots of people really are devastated financially—have been for 40 years—and it’s no joke. And there’s a reason they’re not voting for Democrats anymore in those areas.

And what was your reaction to the spending?

I’ve never even seen anything like that in Oregon politics. I hope he’s not a terrible human being and a bad person. You could win no matter what you are with that kind of money.

I do like to give the voters some credit: They might actually have voted for Carrick Flynn as a human being if they knew his story, coming from nothing. But they may not vote for him now because of the way he’s getting funded.

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