Wu will resign in scandal
U.S. Rep David Wu will step down after debt ceiling debate in D.C. after allegations of sex with 18-year-old
Embattled congressman David Wu announced Tuesday morning he will resign his congressional seat following the end of congressional debt ceiling negotiations.
Wu's announcement came minutes before Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley issued a joint statement calling on Wu to step down, the latest in a series of intensifying efforts to persuade the Democratic lawmaker to walk away from his job.
On Friday, The Oregonian reported that the young daughter of a Wu supporter alleged the congressman engaged in unwanted and forceful sexual contact with her while attending a Thanksgiving party at her family's home in California.
Wu acknowledged publicly the seriousness of the charges, but argued the contact was consensual and that he would be "vindicated."
Even so, Democrats and Republican lawmakers called on Wu to step down immediately following the report, with a flurry of phone calls and political pressure ratcheting up over the weekend.
On Monday, Wu announced he wouldn't seek reelection, but calls for his resignation continued.
Allegations add onto tiger suit
The latest allegations piled onto concerns within Wu's party about his fitness to serve following revelations in March that he sent inappropriate e-mails to staffers, with photos of himself in a tiger suit attached, during the 2010 election. Stories about Wu accepting pain pills from donors and strange behavior at an airport accompanied those reports.
While initial polling suggested that Wu was surviving that earlier scandal, he drew two Democratic primary challengers in state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and State Rep. Brad Witt, of Clatskanie.
The new allegation seemed harder for Wu to shake.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for a congressional ethics probe and the Washington County Democrats were poised to hear a no-confidence vote on Wednesday before Wu announced his pending resignation.
"This thing's not going away for Wu, he should just resign and let people move on," said Oregon state Senator Bruce Starr Monday.
Now, the race to replace Wu is wide open with jockeying on both sides of the political aisle for a chance at a national political post. And though Democrats hold a registration advantage in the first congressional district, Jim Moore, who teaches political science at Pacific University said without an incumbent, the party now has their best shot.
"There is more of a chance for the GOP with Wu out. Open congressional seats are few and far between. This will be the best chance for a Republican victory since Wu's first win in 1998," Moore said.
The names being floated by party members indicate just such a wide-open field.
On the Democratic side, Avakian and Witt could be joined by Oregon State Senator Suzanne Bonamici. Kaliko Castille, a political newcomer, is also running.
On the Republican side, Stephan Brodhead, who lost the GOP primary last year, and perennial candidate Pavel Goberman have entered the race. Rob Cornilles, who lost to Wu in the 2010 general election, is joined by Portland business man Rob Miller, former GOP primary candidates John Kuzmanich and Doug Keller as possible challengers.
State Reps. Katie Eyre Brewer and Shawn Lindsay both say they're considering a run. Both are freshman Republican lawmakers from Hillsboro.
Starr told the News-Times he won't run.
Election timeline still unclear
Wu said he won't resign until after Congress has settled the debate over raising the federal debt ceiling. On Tuesday several reports from major banks predicted the U.S. Treasury would run out of funds to pay its bills a week after the Aug. 2 deadline touted by the Obama administration as the deadline for congress to act.
That means Wu might hold onto his job into mid-August. Once he steps down, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber will set a date for a special election. In a statement Kitzhaber released Tuesday, he said he'd pick a date that will allow time for a primary election. The secretary of state estimates the special election could cost between $400,000 and $500,000.
Moore said even candidates that win the special election will have to defend their seats in the general 2012 election.
'They'll have to raise a lot of money to run credible campaigns,' Moore said.
Only Avakian, with a $124,000 war chest, has reported serious cash to federal elections officials.