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Bonamici best fit for Congress

Bonamici's experience, temperament and connections give her the edge in this race.

Lost in the negative shouting match to replace former Congressman David Wu is a bit of positive news: Regardless of the outcome, 1st Congressional District voters are almost certain to see improvement in their representation on Capitol Hill when they vote Jan. 31.

Either Democrat Suzanne Bonamici or Republican Rob Cornilles would be a step up from Wu, an aloof technocrat whose quirky demeanor devolved to bizarre and troubling behavior during the past year, culminating in his resignation amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

The absence of an effective voice in the 1st Congressional District has hurt all of Oregon. Stretching from downtown Portland to Astoria and including all of Washington County, the district legitimately claims to be home to the state's economic engine.

That's why Wu's replacement is so important. Whoever voters send to Washington, D.C., needs to be smart on trade and business issues and ensure that Congress doesn't dampen the innovations that percolate from the high-tech campuses of Aloha and Hillsboro and startups in Portland. The representative for this district also will require a crash course in fishery management and federal timber policy.

While both the major candidates in this race have the raw abilities necessary for the job, in our view Bonamici is ready now.

A four-year veteran of the state Legislature, she has a record of tackling complicated problems, from redrawing Oregon's legislative districts to helping homeowners in danger of foreclosure.

What's more, she has built a network of strong support across the district and the state. Her candidacy has even earned endorsements from high-profile Republicans such as Washington County District Attorney Bob Hermann and former Oregon Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer.

Those endorsements bode well for her ability to work with - and represent - both Republicans and Democrats. She also would be well served on Capitol Hill by her previous experience in Washington, D.C., where she worked as a consumer protection attorney for the Federal Trade Commission.

Throughout the campaign, she's shown poise, an ability to think on her feet and an impressive depth of knowledge about the specific issues now before Congress.

Cornilles, who ran a good, but unsuccessful campaign against Wu in November 2010, has proven to be an energetic campaigner and a passionate advocate for getting people back to work, drawing on his experience as founder and owner of Game Face, a 16-year-old Tualatin sports marketing company.

He, more than Bonamici, has shown a willingness to buck his party. He refused to sign a no-tax pledge, and in our endorsement interview was able to rattle off several issues on which he agrees with President Obama.

But Congress isn't an entry-level position, and we'd like to see Cornilles get some level of experience in elected office before being promoted to one of the most important positions in government.

If this had been a rematch with Wu, Cornilles would get our nod. But Bonamici offers greater promise than Wu, and her experience, temperament and connections throughout the district give her a decisive edge in this race.

Steven Reynolds, a Progressive, and James Foster, a Libertarian, are also running. Neither has mounted a campaign to compete with the major party candidates.

1st Congressional District voters should elect Suzanne Bonamici in the Jan. 31 special election.