As Democrats are still waiting on Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., to officially step down, Republicans got their first official candidate into the special election to replace the embattled congressman.
2010 nominee Rob Cornilles is set to announce his candidacy on Thursday at 1:15 p.m. ET at a press conference outside Bioject Medical Technologies, his campaign announced Wednesday.
Cornilles, the founder of a sports marketing company, ran against Wu last year, but at that time none of the incumbent's erratic behavior from last fall had come out. In the Democratic-leaning district, Cornilles lost by 12 points, but raised over $1 million for the campaign. The Republican is a strong candidate, given his name ID and connections in the district. But Democrats still have the distinct edge here, and are helped by the fact that there will be party primaries and not party free-for-alls or committees picking nominees, which have caused problems for frontrunners in recent special elections.
Democrats already have a growing field on their side--state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian was the first in to challenge Wu in the primary before he was forced to step down, and state Rep. Brad Witt was also already in the race. State Sen. Suzanne Bonamici is expected to launch her candidacy soon. For Republicans, businessman Rob Miller is also mentioned as a potential candidate.
Wu announced last week he would resign following a report he had an "unwanted sexual encounter" with the teenage daughter of a campaign donor - but he said that he would remain in the House until after the debt-limit negotiations were finalized. Now, more than a day after President Obama signed the compromise bill into law, Wu hasn't yet officially stepped down, and Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber can't set a special election date until he does.