Republicans in Oregon’s newly drawn 6th Congressional District last week chose as their nominee for the House businessman Mike Erickson, an anti-abortion candidate who has been accused of paying for an ex-girlfriend’s abortion.
The Associated Press called the Republican primary race for Erickson on Friday after enough votes were counted in the state’s all-mail election to determine that he had defeated state Rep. Ron Noble and a handful of other candidates for the nomination.
Oregon’s 6th Congressional District was created based on the results of the 2020 census.
Political analyst Len Bergstein told the Oregon Capital Chronicle that the accusation against Erickson could hurt him in the election.
In 2008, when Erickson ran a failed bid for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, his opponent in the Republican primary revealed that a friend of Erickson’s former girlfriend Tawnya had allegedly said in an email in 2006 that Erickson had paid for Tawnya to get an abortion.
“In 2000 (or) 2001, a very close friend of mine had dated Mike. During this time she became pregnant with his child. Mike drove my friend to a (Northeast) Portland abortion clinic, on the way he stopped by an ATM withdrawing $300 for her procedure and dropped her off across the street from the clinic,” the woman later told the Oregonian. “In tears, she walked across the street and into the clinic alone. I left work early, met her at the clinic and held her hand through the entire procedure.”
Tawnya herself corroborated her friend’s account of the abortion, telling the Oregonian, “I asked him, ‘Are you sure you don’t want a baby?’ He shook his head. I opened the door, got out bawling and crossed the street and walked up to the clinic.”
Erickson said that he did give Tawnya $300 and drove her to a doctor’s office, but claimed he didn’t know she was getting an abortion. “Did I pay for an abortion? Absolutely not. … She was having some financial troubles. She asked for some money to go have a doctor’s appointment — not knowing what that was — and whatever happened, happened, I guess. I didn’t even know she had an abortion.”
Still, the claim that Erickson had paid for his ex-girlfriend’s abortion caused Republicans to withdraw their support, Politico reported in 2008. He won the primary, after which Kevin Mannix, the GOP primary opponent who had spread the story, refused to endorse him, calling him a “dishonest person.”
Erickson lost in the general election to Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader.
With the Supreme Court poised to overturn its landmark decision in Roe v. Wade that affirmed a constitutional right to an abortion nationwide, the allegations against Erickson could derail his run in 2022.
Erickson was congratulated on his primary win last week by House Republican Caucus Chair Elise Stefanik of New York.
“Congratulations to conservative businessman Mike Erickson on his primary win in #OR06!” Stefanik tweeted after the AP called the race. “Mike will work hard to make sure this NEW seat is RED in November in our fight to take back the House and Fire Nancy Pelosi once and for all!”
Erickson will face Democrat Andrea Salinas, a state representative who won a competitive primary for the seat, in November.
Salinas supports abortion rights and has been endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats to the House, said that Salinas’ pro-abortion rights stance is critical.
“As the fate of Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance, Erickson has previously campaigned on a ‘strict anti-abortion platform‘ and supports rolling back women’s reproductive freedoms,” the DCCC wrote in a strategy memo published May 20 called “The Case Against Mike Erickson.”
The DCCC said that Salinas “was a leader in the efforts to pass one of the country’s most progressive and comprehensive reproductive rights laws, Oregon’s Reproductive Health Equity Act, to ensure more accessible, affordable quality health care for all.”
Inside Elections, a nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, rates the race “Leans Democratic.”
If Erickson wins, he won’t be the first anti-abortion GOP lawmaker who has been alleged or shown to have assisted or encouraged partners in obtaining abortions.
Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) encouraged both a lover and an ex-wife to get abortions.
Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Tim Murphy resigned his seat in 2017 after reports surfaced that the publicly anti-abortion lawmaker had encouraged a lover to get an abortion.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.