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Havana moon

The initial easy reaction to the Oregonian Sunday story about Mike Erickson‘s Cuba travel may be either that it’ just a piling on, or too peripheral at this point to matter.

But it may matter, some.

The story in Sunday’s Oregonian is about trip that Erickson – now the Republican nominee in Oregon’s 5th U.S. House district – made for six days in 2004. He has describe it as a “humanitarian trip,” and there’s apparently no dispute that he provided a substantial donation (the precise amount is in some dispute) for Cubans, and traveled there in the process of delivery.

What’s new, in the Oregonian‘s report, is a description of the trip that puts it in a very different frame: A pro forma (albeit real) donation delivered just sufficiently and directly enough to give the donors, who included Erickson, legal clearance from the United States to travel to Cuba; after which, most of the time and energy went into Havana night clubs and other tourist spots. Nothing illegal or unethical here, other than that this description of the trip clashes sharply with Erickson’s. (And still does.)

This might not have much to do with the 5th district race (in which Democrat Kurt Schrader now is favored) except that it reinforces a growing string of disputed and controversial statements Erickson has made about himself and his background: It deepens and enhances the narrative.

And since that narrative is the biggest reason he’s now likely to lose a race he once might credibly have won, that does matter.

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