Former state legislator announces run for Republican primary for Oregon’s 6th District

Former state legislator Denyc Boles announced Monday she’s running for the Republican nomination in Oregon’s 6th Congressional District, which includes Salem.

Boles said safety, education and the economy are her top concerns.

“Oregon families deserve better than the bickering and partisan gridlock we are getting from Washington, D.C.,” Boles said. “We deserve real solutions to combat inflation, bringing back safer communities, stronger schools for our kids and providing better opportunities for our working families.”

She’s the first Republican to announce a run for the seat, which is certain to draw national interest as Republicans try to shore up control of the U.S. House and Democrats try to regain the majority. She is likely to face stiff competition, including from Republican logistics consultant, Mike Erickson, who lost by 2.5 percentage points to U.S. Rep. Andrea Salinas last November.

Chuck Adams, a consultant for Erickson, told the Capital Chronicle on Monday that Erickson plans a rematch against Salinas and intends to make his announcement within the next month.

Analysts expect the Republican winner of the primary to receive national political support as the Republicans try to shore up their hold of the U.S. House and Democrats try to regain their majority.

“Republican voters are energized to select the best candidate and are motivated to win in 2024,” Justin Hwang, chair of the Oregon Republican Party, told the Capital Chronicle on Monday.

The Oregon Secretary of State’s office will start receiving campaign filings on Sept. 14.

The district is Oregon’s newest, created after the 2020 Census and includes Polk and Yamhill counties along with parts of Marion, Clackamas and Washington counties.

“I’m proud to call the Willamette Valley home, and I’m deeply committed to this community,” Boles said in her announcement. 

She was raised by a single mother and grew up picking fruit in the Willamette Valley, according to her announcement. As an adult, she has run a business helping realtors and a communications company. She also served about 3.5 years in the Legislature, both in the House and Senate. She was appointed three times to state seats – in 2014 following the resignation of state Rep. Kevin Cameron, in 2018 following the resignation of state Rep. Jodi Hock and in 2019 after state Sen. Jackie Winters died.

Boles ran for the Salem-based state district in 2020 – and won the Republican nomination unopposed. But she lost the general election last November to Democrat Deb Patterson. 

Her campaign said her accomplishments include advocating for children and their families around suicide with the passage in 2019 of Senate Bill 52, which requires Oregon secondary schools to have suicide prevention plans. Steve Michael, a Boles’ spokesman, also said in an email she advocated for House Bill 3032, an anti-bullying bill that would have required parental notification of bullying; and supported House Bill 2691 on establishing a psychiatric help line through Oregon Health & Science University. It, too, did not pass.

Her website emphasizes her concern about inflation, health care and drug abuse.

“In Congress, I’ll work to reduce the cost of living for middle and low-income families, create new opportunities for family-supporting jobs and fight to make health care, including mental health care, more accessible and affordable,” she said.

Erickson also emphasized inflation in his 2022 bid against Salinas along with crime and energy independence. This would be his fourth run for Congress. He raised nearly $4 million in his bid to win the seat in 2022, including a $2.8 million loan to his campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission. The last weeks of his campaign were overshadowed by revelations that he had pleaded guilty to drunken driving in 2016 and drug accusations. Officers found an unprescribed oxycodone pill in his wallet but he was not charged with drug possession. 

Salinas used the case in negative ads, which Erickson sued over, accusing her of false publication and seeking $800,000 in damages.

The lawsuit is ongoing. Adams, the consultant, said they’re hoping for a trial but no date has been announced. 

“We’re just in limbo until the court determines the next steps,” Adams said.

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Lynne Terry has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including a recent stint as editor of The Lund Report, a highly regarded health news site. She reported on health and food safety in her 18 years at The Oregonian, was a senior producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting and Paris correspondent for National Public Radio for nine years. She has won state, regional and national awards, including a National Headliner Award for a long-term care facility story and a top award from the National Association of Health Care Journalists for an investigation into government failures to protect the public from repeated salmonella outbreaks. She loves to cook and entertain, speaks French and is learning Portuguese.