Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian announced Monday that he is challenging Rep. David Wu (D) in the Portland-based 1st district.
Avakian is Wu’s first Democratic primary challenger but likely not his last. Wu has come under scrutiny for odd behavior over the years, but a front-page February article in the Oregonian set off even more alarms.
The newspaper reported that Wu’s Congressional senior staff members were so concerned about his mental health that a few days before the November 2010 elections they urged him to enter a hospital for psychiatric treatment. After he won, the Oregonian also reported, at least a half-dozen staff members quit.
That has led to calls for Wu’s resignation, which he has declined to do, and now a challenge from a fellow Democrat.
“This race is about two things: what our community needs and how it can be best represented,” Avakian said in a statement. “I love my current job — helping Oregon businesses succeed and protecting the rights of all Oregonians. But these are principles that my district needs an effective representative to pursue in Congress.”
The Willamette Week reported last week that Avakian hired as an adviser political consultant Jake Weigler, who managed the 2010 re-election of Sen. Ron Wyden(D-Ore.).
The Oregonian reported earlier this month that former state Rep. Greg Macpherson, who ran for attorney general in 2008, is looking at the race as well.
Wu’s most recent filings with the Federal Election Commission show he raised nearly $220,000 in the first quarter. He had about $173,000 in the bank.