Writings and observations

OR CD 1: An election, and a campaign shape

The Oregon 1st congressional district now has a vacancy, with the resignation last night of Representative David Wu. It also has a pair of elections coming up – Governor John Kitzhaber has set November 8 for the primary and January 31 for the general, to fill the seat. (Meaning that the 1st won’t have a representative in Congress for six months, though constituent services will continue.)

And, as if today, it has a dramatically reshaped set of campaigns for the seat.

Up to today, our presumption has been that the first major candidate in had a clear front-runner status. That would be Democratic state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, who entered in April, amassed a large number of solid endorsements (suggestive of strong organization ties) and by the end of June had raised a solid $195,197. A second candidate, state Representative Brad Witt, apparently was well behind, but gathering up such support as remained out there.

Bonamici
Suzanne Bonamici

This didn’t seem to leave a lot of space for state Senator Suzanne Bonamici, from the Beaverton area – but that assumption was wrong. She said she had raised (some of it in pledges) $240,000 in the week before her announcement of candidacy today – enough to raise eyebrows in Washington, an amount sure to generate still more. (What does that suggest about what she’ll raise in the next month or so? She could have both primary and general paid for before long.) And she unveiled a list of endorsers comparable to Avakian’s, including former Governor Barbara Roberts and Attorney General John Kroger.

She has, in short, closed the gap with Avakian on her announcement day. This has abruptly turned into an extremely competitive primary race.

Then there’s the Republican field, empty of more that possibilities until today.

cornilles
Rob Cornilles

The announcement today by Beaverton businessman Rob Cornilles, who lost the run for this seat in 2010, gives Republicans a good get. His loss was in no way on account of personal or campaign inadequacies; he campaigned skillfully, and and his organization was genuinely impressive. He is endorsed by a bunch of Republicans already, including former Governor Vic Atiyeh. He will be able to hit the ground hard, and he may not have to worry about major primary competitors. (That last could remain uncertain for a while.)

For now, the 1st is turned into a place where no one in politics can lightly afford a misstep.

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