Suzanne Bonamici wins decisively in Oregon special
Oregon Democrat Suzanne Bonamici scored a decisive win Tuesday night over Republican Rob Cornilles in the special election to replace disgraced former Rep. David Wu.
With 68 percent of precincts reporting, Bonamici, a former state senator, led Cornilles 54 percent to 39 percent. Cornilles is a sports business consultant who waged an unsuccessful bid for the northwest Oregon-based 1st District seat in 2010.
Democrats had been strongly favored to hold the seat, which has sent only Democrats to Congress since 1974. But party officials approached the contest with trepidation following an upset Republican win for a New York City-based congressional seat last fall.
National Democrats launched a furious TV assault designed to portray Cornilles as a tea partier who was too conservative for the liberal district. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $1.2 million on TV ads. A group of third-party organizations, including EMILY’s List, joined in the ad assault.
“Democrats successfully held the Republican accountable for his extreme tea party roots and his commitment to protecting the ultra-wealthy at the expense of Medicare for seniors,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said in a statement. “This election is a win for middle-class Oregon families who want someone to fight for them.”
Cornilles struggled to gain his footing under the weight of the Democratic attack, consistently lagging behind Bonamici in public polling. National Republicans largely stayed on the sidelines, recognizing the challenges Cornilles faced. The National Republican Congressional Committee spent just $85,000 to help the candidate fund a single TV ad.
In his election night speech, Cornilles angrily accused Democrats of misrepresenting his record. He did not congratulate Bonamici or mention her name.
“Yes, in case you’re wondering, I’m disappointed,” Cornilles said. “I was hopeful going in that we’d be able to reason with the voters and show them a better way to create jobs in this state and our country.”
Republicans argued that Democrats’ decision to expend funds on the contest bodes poorly for the party’s prospects in the fall.
“Despite being outspent by his opponent and on the receiving end of an onslaught of false attacks from national Democrats, Rob kept a deep-blue district in play by fighting for solutions that create Oregon jobs,” NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions said in a statement. “Democrats found themselves spending precious resources masquerading their candidate as a fiscal conservative and desperately running away from their own agenda that the American people continue to reject from coast to coast.”
Bonamici’s convincing victory is certain to discourage Republicans from competing in the district in the fall, when she runs for a full term.
Wu, who was first elected in 1998, resigned in July after reports of erratic behavior and allegations he had an unwanted sexual encounter with a young woman.