Rep.-elect Suzanne Bonamici will be sworn in this week. The new Representative for Oregon’s 1st district said she plans to be a voice in Congress for education, energy and consumer protection. Bonamici won a special election last week to fill the seat of former Rep. David Wu, who resigned in August.
"I am very excited about the focus and emphasis on public education, which I believe is a key part in revitalizing our economy and the quality of life in our communities," she said in an interview. "My interests range from pre-K and the importance of early childhood education through higher education."
In particular, being a community college graduate, Bonamici said she wants to work on strengthening community college job-training programs and ties to local businesses.
With her experience on consumer protection issues, Bonamici said one of the first bills that she will introduce would increase the cap on credit union member business lending. "I see this proposal as an excellent way to get capital to small businesses," she said.
Bonamici is socially liberal and received support from EMILY's List, which backs Democratic women who support abortion rights, during her campaign. She was raised as a Christian but now attends synagogue with her family.
Bonamici said committee posts such as Financial Services or Small Business would also be ideal for her, given her district's makeup.
Oregon's 1st district has the highest median income in the state, according to the Census Bureau, and is home to Nike's headquarters in Beaverton. Bonamici's Democrat-leaning constituents are tech-savvy and educated, though beyond the Portland metro area, agriculture, logging and fishing are historically notable industries. The area trends Democratic, and voted 61 percent for Obama in the 2008 presidential election.
The lines changed little after redistricting, and the 1st is not expected to be much more friendly to the GOP in November.
Wu resigned in August after reports of alleged sexual misconduct with a young woman and acknowledged mental health problems.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee funneled $1.3 million into the special election; the National Republican Congressional Committee gave $85,000 to Cornilles for a coordinated ad campaign.
Bonamici sustained attacks about past connections to Wu. She donated to his campaign in 2010, and her husband was an attorney for the former Congressman. Simon resigned from that role in April.
The special election, with mail-in voting only, had a 50 percent voter turnout.
As Bonamici transitions to Washington, she already has one established Congressional connection: Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, dean of the Oregon delegation. Her son, Andrew, interned in his office, and the Senator backed her husband's judicial posting.
"I congratulate Suzanne on a convincing, well-earned victory," Wyden said in a statement Tuesday. "Andrew, her son, was a terrific intern in my office; Michael, her husband, was an excellent choice of mine to the federal bench; and Suzanne will complete the family trifecta by being a truly outstanding partner in representing Oregonians in Congress."
On returning to the city where she spent her post-college years, Bonamici simply said she is "very excited."