Despite hopes among Republicans in Oregon and Washington, DC that they might repeat their earth-shaking victory of a Democratic U.S. House seat in New York’s 9th District last year, those hopes were dashed in Oregon’s Portland-based 1st District Tuesday. In a race that was overshadowed by the Republican presidential primary in Florida on the same day, leftist Democratic State Sen. Suzanne Bonamici defeated Republican sports entrepreneur Rob Cornilles by a margin of 51 percent to 39 percent and thus retained the House seat of fellow Democrat and resigned Rep. David Wu.
Obviously stung by their loss last year of the New York seat (which had been in Democratic hands since 1922), national Democrats were taking no chance of a repeat defeat in Oregon-1. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee poured in an estimated $1.3 million into the race and, when polls showed Cornilles closing the gap last week, the pro-abortion Emily’s List began sending out emergency appeals for Bonamici. In addition, the AFL-CIO was behind a strong get-out-the-vote effort in the district, which has been in Democratic hands since 1974.
For his part, Cornilles hit hard at his opponent and tried to link her to Wu, whom Cornilles ran against in 2010 and who resigned from Congress last summer after facing several allegations of making advances to a teenaged girl. Cornilles was considered a moderate-to-conservative GOPer, having said he opposed abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and the life of a mother and backing foreign aide for family planning in developing countries. The Republican nominee also disappointed some on the right by never committing to vote for repeal of ObamaCare.
The next special House race will be on June 12, when voters in Arizona’s 8th District choose a successor to resigned Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The primary for the seat is April 17.