Embattled Rep. David Wu announced Tuesday that he will resign from Congress following the conclusion of the debt ceiling debate.
The move comes just four days after a report in the Portland Oregonian that the seven-term Democrat had been accused of sexual misconduct and as Democratic leaders were ramping up pressure on him to quit.
“The time has come to hand on the privilege of high office," Wu said in a statement released by his Congressional office. "I cannot care for my family the way I wish while serving in Congress and fighting these very serious allegations.”
He continued: “This is the right decision for my family, the institution of the House, and my colleagues. It is also the only correct decision to avoid any distraction from the important work at hand in Washington. I intend to go forward with new resolve and love of family, the State of Oregon, and our nation.”
Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) will now be tasked with calling a special election. If it is scheduled within 80 days of when Wu's resignation is official, the parties would nominate their candidates and no primary would be held. If it is scheduled after 80 days or more, a primary would be held before the special general election.
Two Democrats are already running in Oregon’s 1st district, which includes a portion of Portland and its western suburbs. The district will lose some Democratic voters in redistricting, but the party expects it to remain a stronghold. The special, however, will be held using the existing district boundaries.
State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and state Rep. Brad Witt are the Democrats already in the race. Also mentioned by party insiders as a potentially strong contender is state Sen. Suzanne Bonamici (D), the wife of recently confirmed federal Judge Michael Simon.
Republicans in the high-tech-focused district expect a special election to be competitive. The GOP names floated include businessman Rob Miller, 2010 nominee Rob Cornilles, state Sen. Bruce Starr and state Reps. Shawn Lindsay and Katie Eyre Brewer.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent a letter to the House Ethics Committee on Monday calling for an investigation into Wu’s recent behavior. The alleged incident reportedly occurred with the daughter of a family friend around Thanksgiving last year.
Wu was re-elected by a 13-point margin last year despite his general absence from the campaign trail. As Republicans were pushing toward a historic election, Wu was seen during the August recess last year relaxing at a coffee shop on Capitol Hill and held no public events in the last few days before the November election.
Six staffers and his top political consultants all left him following the election. When reports surfaced detailing his behavior last fall, Wu said he acted inappropriately with staff. That included sending a picture of himself dressed in a tiger costume.
Wu will be the fourth House Member to resign this Congress and the third to do so amid scandal.