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Scappoose photographer will challenge Rep. Brad Witt in fall

by: COURTESY OF MOSSBARGERS - Larry Ericksen.Scappoose photographer Larry Ericksen won the Republican Party nomination to face Democratic Rep. Brad Witt of Clatskanie in November for the right to represent House District 31, official primary results from three counties indicate.

Columbia County, where both Ericksen and Witt live and which is the only county entirely contained within HD-31, gave Ericksen his only votes in the uncontested primary. No candidates qualified for the ballot, meaning Republican primary voters had to write in a name to cast a vote in the race.

But while Witt won a plurality of the scant few write-in votes cast by Republican voters in Multnomah and Washington counties’ combined portion of HD-31 — four out of 10 valid write-in votes in the former, and two out of seven in the latter — a considerably larger number of write-in votes were cast in Columbia County for both Ericksen and Witt.

Columbia County Elections Supervisor Pam Benham said Ericksen won 106 votes to 59 cast for Witt among Republicans in the county who wrote in a candidate’s name.

If the results are confirmed when the Oregon Elections Division certifies the primary results, which it must do by Thursday, June 19, Ericksen will appear on the general election ballot as the Republican nominee.

The write-in victory “blew me away a little bit,” Ericksen said Wednesday, June 11.

“It wasn’t a lot of votes, but hey, it was enough to say that there’s somebody out there who’s interested in having me run,” said Ericksen.

The Oregon House Republicans sent out a press release Thursday afternoon announcing the success of Ericksen’s write-in bid.

Ericksen, who has been taking portrait photographs as the co-owner of Mossbargers in Scappoose since 1985, was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, in 2012.

He said his challenge to Witt is “not about personalities.”

“I’m running because I really believe that the middle class has gotten the short end of the stick,” Ericksen said, citing the closure of paper mills in Columbia County over the past several years and the export of lumber to China. He went on, “I come to find out that we really live in the ‘regulation nation.’ ... We’re run by regulations put out by agencies, and even the legislatures don’t vote on a lot of this stuff.”

Witt was first elected to his seat in the Oregon House of Representatives in 2004. He succeeded Scappoose Democrat Betsy Johnson, who was elected to the Oregon Senate the same year.

Johnson is unopposed for reelection. She appears to have won an outright majority of the write-in votes cast by Republican voters in Senate District 16, which includes all of Witt’s district plus House District 32, represented by Cannon Beach Democrat Deborah Boone, on the North Coast.

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