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OR 01: GOP Poll Has It Close On The Coast OR 01: GOP Poll Has It Close On The Coast

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Politics

OR 01: GOP Poll Has It Close On The Coast

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In this Nov. 9, 2011 file photo, Oregon Republican congressional candidate Rob Cornilles speaks to supporters the day after winning a special primary election in Portland, Ore. By investing heavily in a congressional district they should win handily, Democratic officials are trying to ensure that they don't face a public relations embarrassment when voters in Oregon's 1st Congressional District go to the polls next month to select a replacement for David Wu, who resigned in the wake of a sex scandal. So far, national Republicans are not investing resources into the race and have made no commitment to doing so, which indicates that they believe Republican candidate Cornilles is still a longshot to pull out a victory over the Democratic nominee, Suzanne Bonamici. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)

But Democrats still have a big advantage in Oregon's First District, which stretches from Portland through Beaverton, Washington County, the northern Willamette Valley and out to the Pacific Ocean. Oregon conducts its elections by mail, meaning turnout is likely to be significantly higher than it would be if voters had to head to a polling place. Ballots have already hit mailboxes, and residents have until Jan. 31 to cast their votes. The district is a diverse mix of rising and falling industries. Nike, Columbia Sportswear and Intel have major facilities in the near-Portland suburbs, while the logging industry along the coastal mountain range has been sagging in recent years. The area is still a Democratic stronghold; President Obama won 61 percent of the vote there in 2008, and no Republican has held the seat since Wendell Wyatt retired in 1974. But that's not to say Democrats aren't at least a little bit worried about saving Wu's seat after he resigned amid allegations of inappropriate behavior last year. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent more than $387,000 on advertisements targeting Cornilles as a Tea Party conservative, and the House Majority PAC, run by former DCCC operatives, has reserved air time in the race's last two weeks. Republicans have been less bullish about the district, given the area's Democratic lean. The National Republican Congressional Committee hasn't spent any money on independent expenditures, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, though House Speaker John Boehner did say on Sunday he had cut Cornilles a $5,000 check.

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