Republican Mike Erickson seeks rematch with Salinas in Oregon’s 6th District

Erickson is suing Salinas for defamation over campaign ads about his 2016 drunken driving arrest

By: - January 31, 2024 5:00 am

Mike Erickson, a logistics consultant and the 2022 Republican nominee for the 6th Congressional District, plans to run again. (Campaign photo)

Mike Erickson, the Republican businessman who lost the 6th Congressional District to U.S. Rep. Andrea Salinas last year, confirmed Wednesday that he’ll seek a rematch. 

Erickson will join former state legislator Denyc Boles in the Republican primary for the 6th District, which includes Salem and all of Polk and Yamhill counties. Salinas eked out a victory with 50.1% of the vote in 2022, and political analysts consider the district one of the nation’s top pickup opportunities for Republicans.

“As a successful businessman and family man, I’m running for Congress because it’s clear Joe Biden and Andrea Salinas’ far-left policies have failed to offer solutions to help Oregonians,” he said in a statement. “Biden and Salinas have failed to secure our southern border; health care and energy prices continue to rise; and they have done nothing to reduce crime and homelessness and make our communities safer.”

Erickson blamed his 2022 loss on negative ads Salinas ran about his 2016 arrest and guilty plea for driving under the influence. He’s suing her for defamation over those ads, with a hearing scheduled before the Oregon Supreme Court next Monday. 

“While career politicians often say anything to get elected, in the last election, Andrea Salinas took it to a new low and pushed lies that were so outrageous and false that she’s now the defendant of a defamation case, and it’s clear she lacks the integrity to serve Oregonians in Congress,” he said. 

Erickson had a blood alcohol content of 0.12% when he was stopped by an Oregon State Police officer who watched him stumble from a bar into his pickup truck, swerve, run a stop sign and turn without signaling, according to a police report. The drunken driving benchmark in Oregon is a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more. Officers also found a 5 milligram oxycodone pill in his wallet while booking him that he said he was holding for his wife.

His plea agreement included a promise that prosecutors would “dismiss remaining violations and not file additional charges, including but not limited to recklessly endangering another person and unlawful possession of hydrocodone,” according to a document provided by his attorney after Salinas began running ads. Another handwritten petition for a plea agreement signed by Erickson and included in public court records twice said the district attorney would dismiss “felony possession” charges. Erickson’s defense attorney said she made a “mistake” in filling out that form

But Salinas ran ads that featured an image of four lines of an unidentified white powder and said Erickson was “charged with felony drug possession.” Erickson sued Salinas, seeking $800,000 in damages. 

In December 2022, a Clackamas County judge rejected Salinas’s attempt to have the case tossed under a state law meant to protect against lawsuits that are intended to silence criticism and stifle free speech. Salinas appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court, which plans to hold oral arguments in the case next Monday. 

This is Erickson’s fourth run for Congress. In 2006, he was the Republican nominee for the 5th Congressional District but lost to then-U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley, D-Oregon. After Hooley retired in 2008, he narrowly won the Republican nomination a second time, but fellow Republicans refused to endorse him and his campaign cratered after a Clackamas County woman alleged that Erickson, a fervent opponent of abortion, had gotten her pregnant and paid for her to have an abortion in 2000. 

Erickson is the founder and CEO of a global logistics company, AFMS. He self-funded most of his 2022 campaign, loaning the campaign nearly $2.8 million of the almost $4 million it raised. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee panned Erickson’s entry, with spokesperson Dan Gottlieb calling him a “perennial loser.”

“After failing to buy a seat in power not once, not twice, but three times, MAGA millionaire Mike Erickson still seems to think he can pay to erase Oregonians’ memory of his anti-choice record, rank hypocrisy, and dangerous far-right beliefs this time around,” Gottlieb said. “Voters in the 6th Congressional District know exactly who Mike Erickson is: a perennial loser who will say and do anything to buy his way into power – even if that means lying through his teeth and endangering the rights of Oregonians along the way.”

Updated at 9 a.m. Monday with comments from the DCCC. 

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Julia Shumway
Julia Shumway

Julia Shumway is the Capital Chronicle's deputy editor and lead political reporter. Before joining the Capital Chronicle in 2021, she was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix and reported on local and state government and politics in Iowa, Nebraska and Bend. An award-winning journalist, Julia also serves as president of the Oregon Legislative Correspondents Association, or Capitol press corps.

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