Oregon GOP Primary Gets Personal

Want a sign that a congressional campaign has crossed the rubicon of negativity? How about when one candidate e-mails 60,000 prospective voters that his opponent paid a woman to abort his illegitimate child?

A Republican congressional primary in Oregon's Fifth District between businessman Mike Erickson and former gubernatorial nominee Kevin Mannix for the seat of retiring Rep. Darleene Hooley (D) broke past that line yesterday after Mannix - a former state representative trailing Erickson in the polls - sent out the email, rehashing a charge that first surfaced when Erickson ran against Hooley in 2006.

The Portland Tribune first reported the email yesterday, then spoke to the accuser anonymously and friend of hers on-the-record, and noted that the political director of Oregon Right to Life thought she was credible.

In his letter, Mannix said he was reluctant to bring the issue up. "Rarely have I been confronted with such a difficult decision as to whether to proceed with something of this nature," he wrote in his letter. He added that he wanted to "take personal responsibility for sharing this story."

Erickson, who has run as an anti-abortion candidate, has denied the accusation. "These unsubstantiated and untrue allegations are from an e-mail from 2006 that no news media reported at the time. They are just as untrue today as they were then," he said in a statement.

The primary will be held on May 20.

-- Avi Zenilman