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CD1: 13 candidates, 3 frontrunners

With party slates determined, now it's a race to the primary vote on Nov. 8

Thirteen candidates - eight Democrats and five Republicans - have lined up for the 1st Congressional District's special fall election.

But in the race for the Republican nomination, one candidate, Rob Cornilles, is already a favorite to win. And in the Democratic race most attention has focused on two candidates, Brad Avakian and Suzanne Bonamici, who have a lead in fundraising.

The race is a rare opportunity for Republicans to make a splash in a congressional district that favors Democrats.

Incumbent David Wu, a seven-term Democrat, resigned in scandal Aug. 3 following months of speculation about his mental health, embarrassing photos of him dressed in a tiger suit and allegations that he forced himself on the 18-year-old daughter of a friend and campaign donor last Thanksgiving.

But the seat also provided an unusual opportunity for Democrats with national ambitions to take a stab at the big time in a district that Wu has held onto for more than a decade.

Major party candidates had until 5 p.m. Monday to file for the Nov. 8 primary election. Minor party candidates have until Dec. 1 to file for the Jan. 31 special election.

A chance for Republicans in the first

The district has been represented by a Democrat since 1975, but without an incumbent, the Republican party has its best shot since 1999 when Wu was first elected to take the seat back.

Leading that charge is Rob Cornilles, a Tualatin resident and president of Game Face Inc., a sports marketing company. Cornilles lost to Wu in last year's congressional race, earning 43 percent of the vote to Wu's 55 percent.

"Cornilles is definitely the one to beat on the Republican side," said Jim Moore, who teaches political science at Pacific University.

Last week, the News-Times reported online that State Rep. Katie Eyre Brewer wouldn't seek the republican nomination. That opened the field to a slate of candidates dominated by relative newcomers to politics who haven't won elections before.

Two of the Republican candidates have experience running campaigns. Jim Greenfield ran unsuccessfully against Wu in 2002, earning 34 percent to Wu's 64 percent vote share.

Greenfield told the Tigard Times he'd be looking for Tea Party support in the primary.

Lisa Michaels, of Beaverton, an independent television media consultant, unsuccessfully challenged State Sen. Mark Hass in the 2008 general election. Hass earned 68 percent of the vote to Michael's 32 percent.

Other Republicans in the race are Pavel Goberman of Beaverton, a perennial candidate who operates a fitness company and Delinda R. Morgan of Gaston, who works for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 701 and a principal in Morgan Meadows Vineyard.

Two front-runners in Democratic race

The race for the Democratic nomination has focused on two leading candidates. State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and State Sen. Suzanne Bonamici, who took over Avakian's senate seat when he was appointed to Labor Commissioner, have both raised about $200,000, and Moore said they lead the race.

"Avakian and Bonamici are the favorites - they share the same densely populated suburban base and are equal in fundraising so far.

Bonamici has backing from Emily's List, a national organization that raises money for pro-choice female Democratic candidates.

Avakian was the first to announce his candidacy for the office, and has successfully run statewide campaigns. Avakian's early start - he entered the race in April when Wu was planning to seek reelection in May 2012 - means he's had extra time to gather support and build fundraising momentum for what will be a very expensive, short campaign.

"I think his move is one of the reasons that we have this race now," said Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax, who endorsed Avakian before Wu announced he wouldn't run again.

Also in the race is State Rep. Brad Witt, of Clatskanie. Witt says when the next quarter fundraising numbers are released, he'll be competitive with Avakian and Bonamici, but hasn't disclosed his receipts.

The race has also drawn a number of candidates whose names will appear on a ballot for the first time.

Robert Lettin is an investment adviser and served as press secretary to Colorado Congresswoman Pat Schroeder in the 1980s and said he was appointed to Jackson County, Oregon's board of commissioners.

Also in the race are Saba Ahmed of Beaverton, Dominic Hammon of Brookings, Todd Lee Ritter of Tigard and Dan Strite of Warrenton.

Ahmed is a lobbyist who has worked for Intel Corp. and the Oregon Supreme Court. Hammon works for Redwood Coast Employment Services (Oregon law does not require candidates to live in the congressional district to run for the position; Brookings is in the 4th Congressional District). Ritter is a textbook dealer. Strite is a professional golfer and retired business owner.