GOP pollster Greg Strimple said Republicans would be competitive in a special because the “macro political environment still favors Republicans, even in Oregon,” and “the scandal surrounding this will deflate Democratic enthusiasm for the seat.”
“It’s not as good as running in the 2nd [district], but it’s a good district for Republicans as far the state of Oregon goes,” Strimple said.
The Oregon Democratic Party is still awaiting official word from Wu on whether he is even running for re-election. A Congressional aide confirmed to Roll Call that he will not run again, but the seven-term Congressman has yet to tell party leaders back home what his intentions are.
Over the weekend, Wu spoke with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) following a Friday night report in the Portland Oregonian that an 18-year-old daughter of a friend and campaign donor left a message at Wu’s district office accusing him of sexual misconduct.
On Monday, Wu was seen on the House floor talking with Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) and a few other Members. Honda later declined to comment on what they discussed.
Pelosi has asked Ethics Chairman Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and ranking member Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) to investigate whether Wu engaged in any “inappropriate activities” that violated House rules, according to a letter she sent Monday to the committee.
Though the House Ethics Manual details the conduct it expects from Members in relation to their official duties — including rules regarding gifts, travel and outside income — any ethics inquiry into Wu’s alleged sexual encounter would fall under a general clause that requires lawmakers to conduct themselves “at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”
Meanwhile, several state legislators and prominent Democrats in Oregon called on Wu to step down immediately. Avakian, who was the first to challenge Wu, said in a statement late Sunday that the Congressman staying in office “ensures the voters of the First Congressional District will be without effective representation for the next 17 months as Wu is subject to a House Ethics Committee investigation and faces a complete loss of authority and influence within the Democratic caucus.”
In an interview with Roll Call on Monday, Witt said he is not calling for Wu to resign, but the realities of the situation are such that he probably should.
“Particularly, it appears at least that he is in need of some professional help at this point,” said Witt, who worked for years at the AFL-CIO. “The folks in the 1st Congressional district need the very best representation they can get in Congress. They need a Congressperson who is at the top of his or her game.”
Amanda Becker and Jessica Brady contributed to this report.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.