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Kitzhaber sets January election to replace Wu

UPDATE • Candidates have until Aug. 15 to file for the position after congressman's Wednesday resignation
by: Chase Allgood U.S. Rep. David Wu

Gov. John Kitzhaber set a special election in late January to replace Congressman David Wu, who officially resigned Wednesday night.

Kitzhaber said Wednesday that a special primary election would be scheduled Nov. 8, with the special election set Jan. 31, 2012.

State law mandates that a primary election be used to select Republican and Democratic nominees because the Jan. 31, 2012, general election is more than 80 days after Wu's Aug. 3 resignation.

'I have received a letter of resignation from Congressman David Wu and am working with the secretary of state's office on a special election process,' Kitzhaber said. 'Holding both a primary and general election allows the voters of the 1st Congressional District full participation in selecting a replacement.'

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown said Thursday major party candidates have until Aug. 15 to file for the November primary election. Ballots will be mailed beginning Oct. 21.

Minor party candidates will have until Dec. 1 to file for the January special election. Ballots for that election will be mailed in mid-January, Brown said.

Kitzhaber's decision came a couple of hours after Wu made his decision to leave office. Wu said his "time has come."

With a formal notice to Kitzhaber and House Speaker John Boehner, Wu will no longer be a U.S. representative as of 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 3.

'However great the honor and engaging the work, there comes a time to hand on the privilege of elected office - and that time has come," Wu said in a statement released Wednesday evening.

The seven-term 1st District lawmaker has fulfilled his pledge to resign once the debt ceiling crisis was averted. He voted in favor of the controversial debt limit bill that President Obama signed into law Tuesday.

Senators call for resignation

Wu leaves in disgrace after a team of reporters at The Oregonian shined light on allegations July 22 that the politician had an unwanted - and still undisclosed - sexual encounter with an 18-year-old daughter of a friend and campaign donor a few weeks after he was reelected to the House of Representatives last November.

Although Wu has remained mostly tight-lipped about the allegations, he has told staff the encounter was consensual and he broke no laws.

As the news spread and fellow politicians and supporters distanced themselves, Wu initially said he would finish his term, but not run for re-election.

The decision drew the ire of many on both sides of the aisle, who implored him to step down immediately. After House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she would open an ethics investigation and Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley publicly called for him to resign, Wu said he would quit.

The senators called the accusations against Wu 'both jarring and exceptionally serious.'


Here is Wu's statement:

Serving as a U.S. Congressman has been the greatest honor of my life. There is no other job where you get up each day and ask, "How can I try to make the world a better place today?"

Particularly meaningful to me has been working for more and better investments in science and education. Also, I believe that my support for people who struggle for human rights and civil liberties will ultimately bear fruit in a world that is more just and peaceful.

However great the honor and engaging the work, there comes a time to hand on the privilege of elected office - and that time has come.

Reporter Kevin Harden contributed to this news story.