Bonamici, Cornilles move on to special election - KPTV - FOX 12

Bonamici, Cornilles move on to special election

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Democratic state Sen. Suzanne Bonamici and Republican business consultant Rob Cornilles will face off in January for the congressional seat vacated by David Wu amid a sex scandal.

FOX 12 political analyst Tim Hibbitts made the call regarding the First Congressional District primary shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday.

As of late Tuesday night, Bonamici had 64 percent of the Democratic vote and Cornilles had 82 percent of the Republicans'.

CHECK: Election results

Hibbitts said Bonamici will have an edge going into the general election because of the district's Democratic leanings, but stressed that there is discontent among voters.

"The candidate who best captures that will be successful," Hibbitts said.

Out-of-state money from both Republican and Democratic congressional campaign committees is expected, according to Hibbitts. It's possible independent campaign committees will also fuel the candidates' races.

"If that happens, it means it will be a very nasty, very unpleasant, very dirty race, not really in keeping what we often see in Oregon," he said.

The special election is set for Jan. 31.

Cornilles, a sports-business consultant from Tualatin, has downplayed his Republican affiliation, positioning himself as a centrist candidate with an independent streak.

In a speech to supporters on Tuesday night, Cornilles said he wants voters to expect more from their representatives. He also pledged to bring change to Congress.

"I am very committed to changing the way Washington, D.C., works, because right now, it doesn't work," he said.

At the Bonamici celebration, she told supporters she will always put the needs of people before politics. Bonamici is a lawyer who worked on consumer protection issues at the Federal Trade Commission before going into private practice.

"People in this district are ready for someone with a record of standing up for consumers and getting things done," she said.

When asked if she thought Wu's resignation would affect her chances, she said no.

"That's in the past. Those who continue to talk about it are focused on the past. What we need to do is focus on getting the right person to represent the people and that's what I bring to the First Congressional District," she said.

Hibbitts agrees.

"At the end of the day, voters are going to look at these two candidates and make a judgement going forward and not a judgement based on the fact that, ‘Oh gosh, David Wu was a Democrat, Bonamici is a Democrat and, therefore, I'm going to go in another direction because of that,'" he said. "It won't be helpful to Bonamici, but I don't see anything particularly harmful, either."

The Democratic primary also included Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, of Beaverton, and state Rep. Brad Witt, of Clatskanie, who launched campaigns before Bonamici but struggled to keep momentum after she entered the race.

In a statement, Avakian congratulated Bonamici and wished her victory.

"Our economy is failing millions of Americans -- fathers, mothers, veterans, students, small business owners and countless others who are struggling while our political process caters to the interest of the rich and powerful," he wrote. "We need leaders who aren't afraid to stand up for the working people of this country and fight on their behalf."

Wu resigned in August after he was accused of making an unwanted sexual advance on an 18-year-old woman. The allegations followed months of reports about his bizarre behavior that concerned some staff members and supporters -- including taking an unknown medication from a campaign donor and emailing photos of himself dressed in a tiger suit.

Oregon's First Congressional District covers much of northwest Oregon, including downtown Portland and all of Washington, Yamhill, Clatsop and Columbia counties.

Copyright 2011 KPTV. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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