While the national political media is largely focused on the Republican primary in Florida, tonight there is another race on the other side of the country with implications for November.
In Oregon, today is the last day of voting in the special election to replace former Democratic Representative David Wu and represent the state’s 1st Congressional District.
It’s the last day of voting because this is Oregon and vote by mail is the only way to exercise your franchise, so voters have in fact been filing out ballots for some time. Go ahead and insert your own crack about a 32 cent poll tax here.
Politico reports that Democrat Suzanne Bonamici has a comfortable lead over Republican Rob Cornilles in current polling. Most observers expect a Democratic victory:
“I’d be shocked if Bonamici didn’t win,” said Dan Lavey, a longtime top political strategist for former Oregon Republican Sen. Gordon Smith.
This may bode well for Democrat’s national chances in November.
Despite its proximity to Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District, one of the most liberal in the nation by many metrics, the 1st District is far closer to the reality of The Office than the captivity of Portlandia.
The 1st District does indeed lean blue, but draws most of its constituents from Portland’s Western suburbs and is a good demographic proxy for a number of suburban and ex-urban districts across the country.
Politico reports that that is why Democrats have taken nothing for granted and have flooded the race with resources, outspending Republicans 2-1, according to Lavey:
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent more than $1.2 million on TV ads slamming the Republican as a tea-party-aligned conservative who is far out of step with the liberal-leaning, northwest Oregon-based 1st District, which has sent only Democrats to Congress since 1974. An army of Democratic-aligned groups, including EMILY’s List, has dropped into the district to provide further support.
Regardless of the outcome, tonight marks the end of a saga that placed Wu into the national spotlight for erratic and improper behaviour and eventually led to his Resignation.
Wu, the first Chinese American to serve in Congress, was forced from office after he was accused of making unwanted sexual advances towards a donor’s 18-year old daughter. Wu had previously admitted to sexually harassing a girlfriend while in college.
Perhaps most infamously, Wu previously had to answer to a series of bizarre actions in October 2011, including sending inappropriate emails to his staff in the voice of his children with photos of him wearing a tiger costume. Wu blamed his behaviour on an unnamed painkiller.
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