Updated 3:54 p.m. and at 4:22 p.m.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is buying television advertising in Oregon's First Congressional District, an indication that the race to sew up ex-Rep. David Wu's old seat may not be in the bag.
The Democratic ad attacks businessman Rob Cornilles (R) for alleged ties to the tea party movement, a theme that Democrats have been hammering throughout the special election. The ad buy will run beginning Thursday through the weekend, at a cost of $124,280 -- a significant investment in the Portland media market.
"In this environment, we're not taking anything for granted especially when the Republican is an untrustworthy self-funder who is trying to rewrite his extreme Tea Party positions," a DCCC spokeswoman said.
The Democratic nominee, former state Sen. Suzane Bonamici, is up with her own advertisement, a positive ad that features Bonamici meeting voters and railing against debt and subsidies for oil companies. Bonamici's ad was produced by Dixon Davis Media, the prominent Washington-based firm.
Cornilles ran advertisements before the November 8 primary, but he has not run ads in the last month or so.
Wu's old district should be a safe Democratic seat. The seat stretches from western Porland through the northern Willamette Valley, famous for Oregon's pinot noirs, and along the border with Washington State to the coastal towns of Astoria and Seaside. President Obama won 61 percent of the vote in the district, and it hasn't elected a Republican to Congress since Wendell Wyatt won his final term in 1972.
Cornilles, who ran against Wu in 2010, scored 42 percent of the vote, losing by about 38,000 out of 300,000 ballots cast. That was Wu's narrowest vote margin since he won election in 1998, by a 50 percent to 47 percent gap.
But special elections don't always follow the same rules normal elections follow. If the departed member who caused the special election left because of a scandal, the other party has a very good track record of picking up the seat. In recent years, ex-Reps. Eric Massa, D-N.Y., Chris Lee, R-N.Y., and Anthony Weiner,D-N.Y., have all resigned under ethical clouds, then watched their districts swing to the other party in the subsequent special election.
First district voters will get their ballots in the all-mail election early next month. They have until January 31 to turn those ballots in. Can Republicans win in deep-blue Oregon? The possibility, at least, is enough to force Democrats to spend some early money.