Oregon Special Election
6:27 am
Wed February 1, 2012

Bonamici Wins OR-1 Special Election

PORTLAND -- A fast-paced five months of campaigning has come to an end in Northwest Oregon. Democrat Suzanne Bonamici was elected last night the next representative for the First Congressional District. Unofficial results last night showed Bonamici prevailing with a sixteen point lead over Republican Rob Cornilles. She'll replace another Democrat, David Wu. From Oregon Public Broadcasting, April Baer reports.

As a standing-room-only crowd of volunteers and donors clapped and filled a downtown conference room with their shouts, Suzanne Bonamici raised her arms to thank them.

Bonamici: "I'll always remember the commitment, and the perseverence, through rain and snow -- and rain and rain!"

In her victory speech, Bonamici never strayed far from the themes she talked about time and again during the campaign.

Bonamici: "Our great nation's unmatched prosperity and creativity over the last century can be traced to this promise: if you work hard and play by the rules, you can succeed in America. And I intend to be an advocate for getting back t the basics of fairness and accountability."

She becomes the only woman in the Oregon Congressional delegation.

Bonamici: "I'm excited to begin, grateful for your continued support, and humbled by this awesome responsibility that the people of Northwest Oregon have placed in me with their vote this evening."

The prospect of an open seat drew well over a million dollars in outside advertising and substantial campaign contributions for both candidates.

During his concession speech, Cornilles called Bonamici a very fine person. But he went on to take a dig at some of the out-of-state groups that bought ads for the race.

Cornilles: "the biggest disappointment is that those who opposed me found it necessary to try and undo all the good that small businesses like mine accomplish in our state."

He also talked about the burden future generations will bear if Congress won't, in his words, start making some tough decisions.

Cornilles: "So, young people, you need to know this: Though I lost an election tonight, I’m still committed to doing all I can to convince adults that we need to make you our first priority."

Cornilles did not mention the fact that the election cycle begins again in a matter of weeks.

This special election only serves to decide who will serve out David Wu's term. Wu resigned in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct.

March 6th marks the filing deadline for anyone wanting to compete in the Oregon primary in May. Cornilles was non-committal when asked if he'd make a third run for office.

But in the next race for the seat, the district's lines will have shifted. An Oregon legislative committee - co-chaired by Suzanne Bonamici - redrew boundaries of the First District last year, to conform with population changes.

Political observers have said the changes are likely to provide a Democratic edge to the First District's southern border.

I'm April Baer in Portland.

Copyright 2012 Oregon Public Broadcasting