Democrats Retain U.S. House Seat in Oregon Special Election

Suzanne Bonamici won a special election yesterday in Oregon to replace fellow Democrat David Wu, a race testing how the two parties match up in a Democrat-leaning district nine months before the November election.

Wu resigned in August after Portland’s Oregonian newspaper reported on allegations that he had engaged in unwanted sexual activity with an 18-year-old girl.

Bonamici, a former state senator, had 54 percent of the vote with 69 percent of precincts reporting, while Republican Rob Cornilles had 39 percent, according to the Associated Press tally.

Cornilles, the owner of a consulting company for sports franchises, emphasized his business background. Bonamici focused on her legislative experience.

In the Oregon district, the political parties test-marketed messages for November’s presidential campaign and other congressional races.

Cornilles said Bonamici voted to raise taxes and fees. Democrats cast Cornilles as a Tea-Party aligned candidate and questioned the number of jobs created by his company.

Both sides focused on Medicare. Cornilles said Bonamici would cut benefits for seniors because she supports President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul enacted in 2010. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee linked Cornilles with a Republican plan passed by the House last year that would create Medicare vouchers.

Bonamici’s victory “is a clear message from Oregon voters that they want their elected officials to create jobs and stand up for small business, while standing strong against Republican efforts to end the Medicare guarantee,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said in a statement.

Obama got 61 percent of the vote in the district in the 2008 presidential election. In the 2010 midterm elections, voters backed Wu over Cornilles by 13 percentage points. Wu first won his seat in 1998.

Catherine Dodge in Washington at

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